Top Cop State
With the promotion of many 1995 batch IPS officers, including Parmod Bann, Gautam Cheema, Surinder Singh and Tejinder Pal Singh, the ranks of Inspector-Generals in Punjab have swollen to 50, or practically every third IPS officer posted in the State. Then there are 17 additional DGPs and four DGPs in Punjab, making it one of most top-cop heavy States in the country. The situation has not developed suddenly, say sources, claiming that its roots go back to the 1980s when Punjab was facing a violent separatist movement. So now, out of sanctioned strength of 172 IPS officials, the state has as many as 94 officers in the senior scale, though the stipulated number of DIGs and above is 49! And though the ‘dark’ days of the 1980s are well in the past, successive State Governments have not paid much attention to this obvious imbalance in the State police hierarchy.
The appointment of a babu as Secretary of the Public Works Department has set Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan against his Cabinet colleague and the PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal. It is, sources say, a twist on the old ‘generalist’ versus ‘specialist’ debate which flares up periodically in babu corridors, with Bhujbal arguing that a bureaucrat should not be appointed to head, what he terms as a ‘highly technical’ department. But for the Chief Minister, a bigger concern is cleaning up a department which has been racked by several corruption scandals in recent times. He seems to favour appointing an IAS officer to head PWD. His earlier appointee was V. Giriraj who was Water Resources Secretary who was replaced by another babu Malini Shankar. Meanwhile Bhujbal has the support of engineers who too are opposed to having an IAS officer appointed to head their department. Who will prevail in this battle of political heavyweights remains to be seen.
Nitish Plays Safe
In times of trouble, netas often turn to their trusted bureaucrats rather than political colleagues. Since his acrimonious split with the BJP, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has sought to surround himself with trusted babus who are working to implement the Chief Minister’s promises. Obviously shaken by the questions raised about his administrative performance after the food poisoning episode, a rattled Nitish recalled 1984 batch IAS officer Deepak Kumar from Central deputation and made him officer on special duty (OSD) in the Chief Minister’s office. But Nitish is not stopping here. He is trying to get former Home Secretary R.K. Singh, who retired recently as his adviser infrastructure. Singh has been close to Nitish since his stint as Principal Secretary in the State Road Construction Department many years ago. Similarly, sources say, another officer P.K. Rai has been made adviser for energy while Mangla Rai is the CM’s agriculture adviser. These babus, say sources, are closer to the Chief Minister than even his ministerial colleagues.