Even before the leader of the BJP legislature group in Haryana assembly, Manohar Lal Khattar could be sworn in as the new chief minister of the state, in a startling development a 1997-batch IAS officer, Pradeep Kasni, seems to have started functioning as his aide in a rather self-styled manner.
Kasni hit headlines in August 2014 after he raised objections over the appointments of Right to Service Commissioners and Information Commissioners by the Congress regime. And he was instantaneously termed as another whistleblower.
While a number of IAS officers are pressing their case for appointment in the chief minister’s office (CMO), considered a powerful and prized posting, Kasni seems to have outmaneuvered them by getting into the role of the CM’s aide without any formal orders.
On Tuesday evening, Kasni stumped Panchkula district officials when he visited Panchkula town to take stock of the preparations for Khattar’s oath-taking ceremony and started passing instructions. He is even learnt to have suggested that the oath-taking ceremony venue be changed to parade ground, a view opposed by top police officials.
Kasni is also learnt to have accompanied Khattar to Delhi in a chartered flight on Wednesday and stayed put at a Haryana Bhawan suite exclusively reserved for the principal secretary to the chief minister (PSCM).
While certain newspaper reports on Wednesday suggested that Khattar, who is the chief minister-designate has asked Kasni to function as his additional principal secretary, sources close to Khattar denied any such move. “When the BJP leader has not been sworn in himself, how could he ask any officer to function as his additional PSCM?” said a source close to the CM-designate.
While the entire range of issues associated with the swearing in ceremony of the new chief minister has to be handled by the office of the chief secretary, Kasni who holds the charge of administrator, Command Area Development Authority (CADA), and project director, Haryana AIDS Control Society, is in no way associated with the arrangements being made for oath-taking function.
Kasni when asked whether he has been formally appointed as additional PSCM denied issuance of any orders. Sources said Kasni had met the chief minister-designate on Tuesday evening at Haryana Niwas in Chandigarh after a word about him was put by Haryana governor Kaptan Singh Solanki. Incidentally, Kasni’s wife, IAS officer Neelam Pradeep Kasni is the secretary to the governor.