Sheela Balakrishnan, who reign Tamil Nadu when Jayalalithaa was in hospital, quits from service

Did Sasikala forced Sheela Balakrishnan to resign?

Chennai, Feb 04: In a surprise development, former Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishnan on Friday quit as adviser to the Tamil Nadu Government, a post to which she was appointed by the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in March 2014, after her superannuation from civil services.

In a parallel development, K.N. Venkataramanan and A. Ramalingam, the Secretary I and IV respectively in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), were removed from their posts. Mr. Venkataramanan, a retired civil servant, and Mr, Ramalingam, a serving officer, were also key members of Jayalalithaa’s team of trusted officials.

Ms. Balakrishnan was believed to have played a key role in guiding the State’s administration during the 75 days when Jayalalithaa was in hospital.

Government sources indicated that though Balakrishnan’s term ends only on March 31, she was politely asked to leave. Though there was no official confirmation in this regard, the matter came to light when she informed a few colleagues of her decision.

It was not immediately clear if the government had asked Ms. Balakrishnan to quit. Some senior bureaucrats confirmed that she had called them to take leave. “She did not give any reasons,” an official said. Her tenure was due to end on March 31.

 A 1976-batch IAS official hailing from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, Balakrishnan was recalled from retirement and appointed as advisor to the chief minister in 2014. The top civil servant had retired as the chief secretary in 2012. Incidentally, Jayalalithaa had made Balakrishnan the chief secretary by superseding her own husband – who was the senior-most IAS official at the time.

Ms. Balakrishnan, who had earned Jayalalithaa’s confidence when she served as Secretary to the Chief Minister between 2002 and 2006, took over as the Chief Secretary on January 1, 2013, superseding her husband, and held the post till March 31, 2014. Upon superannuation two years later, she was made adviser to the government for a period of one year. In 2015, her service was extended by another two years.

Mr. Venkataramanan, who had retired from service, was, in March 2012, given a five-year extension by Jayalalithaa and retained as secretary in the CMO.

Following Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5 last year, talks were doing the rounds that some of the officials hand-picked by the AIADMK leader and appointed to key positions could be moved out.