The Narendra Modi government has cancelled the membership of 27 serving and retired bureaucrats to the prestigious Delhi Golf Club, a perk gifted to them under urban development ministry quotas when the UPA was in power.
Congress leader Kamal Nath headed the ministry when these bureaucrats were made members of the 1930-born club — the coveted playground for Delhi’s rich and famous — that has a waiting period of over four decades for new applicants.
The ministry can jump the queue as it holds a bunch of membership quotas for being the custodian of the 220-acre piece of prime real estate on which the club stands. Normally, government officials have to pay a heavily discounted membership fee of Rs 3 lakh. Others pay Rs 6 lakh.
Former CBI director Ranjit Sinha, former Intelligence Bureau chief Syed Asif Ibrahim, National Commission for Minorities secretary Rajiv Takru, joint secretary in the prime minister’s office Jawed Ashraf, joint secretary in the women and child development ministry IS Chahal, former parliamentary affairs secretary Desh Deepak Verma, former additional secretary in the ministry of personnel PK Misra, UP-cadre IAS officer Neeraj Kumar Gupta lost their membership on January 15 after the current urban development ministry found “contravention of rules and regulations”.
The list has IPS officers Aloke Prasad and Rajesh Ranjan as well.
Kamal Nath could not be contacted. Club secretary Brig (retired) Sanjiv Mehra did not shed any light. “I have joined only recently … I can check the details tomorrow morning and tell you,” he said.
The membership gift came under two slots — tenure and extended tenure. The first category brought membership of up to five years for director and joint secretary-level officers; and till retirement for officers of additional secretary level and above.
The extended tenure varied between three to 12 years after a bureaucrat’s retirement.
It was found that 19 serving bureaucrats were given “out of turn” tenure membership. Of these, Chittaranjan Khaitan, then joint secretary in the ministry who was nominated on May 15, a day before the UPA-II was voted out of power, escaped the axe.
Kamal Nath’s ministry had added an “extended tenure” category and nominated 10 bureaucrats, three of them — IB chief Ibrahim, Raajev Lakhhara (1992-batch Indian Revenue Service officer) and Atul Chaturvedi (joint secretary in the department of industrial policy and promotion) — on May 15.
“It was the decision of the ministry to nominate me and it’s again their decision to take it back,” Ibrahim said.
Shashi Kant Sharma, the comptroller and auditor general, was the lone member in this category to survive the sack. “It is news to me. But I hardly go to the club,” he said.
The sword hangs over all the remaining 30 members inducted during Kamal Nath’s tenure through “lifelong” and “limited playing facility” slots.
Some of the top names in these categories are former additional solicitor general AS Chandihok, Congress MP Deepender Singh Hooda, former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi, adman Suhel Seth, former Congress minister Jitin Prasada and fashion designer Ritu Beri. And, of course, Kamal Nath’s former private secretary Khalid Bin Jamal.