Suresh Kumar, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who retired last year, is set to get a key post from chief minister-designate Capt Amarinder Singh to run Punjab’s administration after the Congress government assumes office on March 16. Meanwhile, IAS officers Navreet Singh Kang (1983 batch) and Karan Avtar Singh (1984 batch) are frontrunners for the post of chief secretary, Congress sources told HT.
On Tuesday morning, before going to Delhi to meet Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, senior officers briefed Amarinder about the pressing administrative matters, sources said. A major bureaucratic shake-up, starting from the chief secretary, is on the cards that will begin after Thursday’s “austere” swearing-in ceremony.
Suresh Kumar, a 1983-batch officer who got into the limelight as his principal secretary in Amarinder’s last term as CM, retired in April last year as additional chief secretary. His role will not be restricted to running the chief minister’s office (CMO), though.
Instead, Suresh, considered a go-getter, will spearhead the administration which will also have a new chief secretary replacing incumbent Sarvesh Kaushal, who has the reputation of being a tough administrator and stickler to the rulebook. Kaushal, from the 1982 batch of IAS, has been at the helm of affairs for nearly three years and will retire in August next year. “It is the absolute prerogative of the chief minister to appoint the chief secretary of his choice,” Kaushal said.
Sources said the state’s seniormost IAS officer Himmat Singh (1980 batch), whose name figured directly or indirectly in cases such as the multi-crore iron ore export and the citrus council scam, is lobbying hard to become chief secretary. His disadvantage is that he is approaching superannuation in August.
Another senior IAS officer, Anjuly Chib Duggal (1981 batch), is on central deputation and will also retire in August.
Navreet Kang, who is in contention, is known for his relatively clean image and a no-nonsense attitude. He too is currently on central deputation and is to retire in April next year. What he lacks is political pull.
Sources said the fight thus is between Kang and Karan Avtar Singh, who will retire in 2020. In case Karan steals the show, he will supersede his batchmate Karan Bir Singh Sidhu, who will be in service till July 2021.
Tejvir to be CM’s principal secy, Gurkirat special principal secy
Tejvir Singh, a soft-spoken IAS officer of the 1994 batch, will be the principal secretary to CM-designate Amarinder. Currently, he is on a central deputation and will join the new assignment on April 1. During Amarinder’s previous innings as CM, Tejvir was Patiala deputy commissioner and later director of public relations.
Meanwhile, 2001-batch IAS officer Gurkirat Kirpal Singh will be special principal secretary to the CM. Sources said 1992-batch IAS officer Kumar Anugresh Prasad Sinha, a trusted officer of former Union minister and Amarinder’s wife Preneet Kaur, is also expected to get an important assignment in the Congress regime.
MP Singh is secy-cum-OSD
The Punjab government on Tuesday appointed Mohinder Pal Singh, a retired Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officer, as secretary-cum-officer on special duty (OSD) to the CM. He is the second officer to be appointed after Gurinder Singh Sodhi, who was called immediately to join the CMO when poll results were declared on March 11. MP Singh is close confidante of CM-designate Amarinder Singh.