Ending months of speculation, former Karnataka Chief Secretary and retired IAS officer K Ratna Prabha joined the BJP on Wednesday in the presence of BJP State President BS Yeddyurappa, in Kalaburgi. Speaking to news agency ANI, Ratna said, “I have decided to join BJP as the Prime Minister has been striving to develop the country in a unique manner. I wanted to do service to the nation and I felt this was one party apt for me to fulfil my desires to work for the people.”
Rumours of Ratna joining the BJP had started soon after her retirement in June 2018 and until now, she had refused the possibility of a political entry. As recently as late February, she had denied those rumours.
An IAS officer of 1981 batch, Ratna was appointed as the third woman Chief Secretary in the state in November 2017, ahead of the elections by then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Ratna was due to retire in March, but got a three-month extension. Since talks of another three-month extension did not materialise, she retired in June 2018 after 37 years in service in the state.
Incidentally, when Subhash Chandra Khuntia was made the Chief Secretary in 2016, thus bringing him back from central deputation, BS Yeddyurappa had criticised Siddaramaiah for not considering Ratna for the post.
Why BJP inducted Ratna Prabha
According to political analysts, the move to induct Ratna Prabha into the BJP was aimed at storming the Congress bastion in north-west Karnataka. During her time as the Additional Chief Secretary, Ratna, who is also a Dalit, played a vital role in paving the way for the legislation that gives reservations in promotions to SC/ST state government employees.
Apart from her service in administration, she is known to be a promoter of entrepreneurship. She had also conducted the ‘Invest Karnataka Summit’ in 2016 and won the Woman of the Year award from the American Biographical Institute Inc, USA, for two successive years, in 1999 and 2000.
She is also popular across the state, especially in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, having served many positions there, including as the first woman District Collector of Raichur.