Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday removed chief secretary Deepak Singhal barely two months after he took charge and appointed principal secretary (finance) Rahul Bhatnagar to the top post of state bureaucracy.
“Singhal has been removed and put on wait list. Principal Secretary (Finance) Rahul Bhatnagar has been made new Chief Secretary,” an official spokesman said in Lucknow.
Singhal had been appointed new chief secretary on July 6, 2016. The post of chief secretary had fallen vacant after extended term of the then chief secretary Alok Ranjan ended on June 30, 2016.
Though no reason was given behind the development, Samajwadi Party insiders said the chief minister was perhaps not happy with him as he had attended a dinner hosted by SP Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh in Delhi which Akhilesh gave a miss.
SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and some other top party leaders were peresent at the dinner. Party insiders said Akhilesh was not very happy with Singhal, considered close to the chief minister’s uncle and senior cabinet minister Shivpal Yadav.
Differences of opinion between Akhilesh and Shivpal have been reported on several occasions in the past, including on the choice of official to be appointed as the state’s chief secretary after Alok Ranjan’s term ended, and the postponement of Qaumi Ekta Dal’s merger with SP.
Singhal was earlier principal secretary (irrigation), a department held by Shivpal.
Bhatnagar, on the other hand, is considered to be in good books of the chief minister and is known for steering the state government clear of any controversy despite pressures on financial front.
Bhatnagar said his priority would be bring about perceptible improvement in the law and order situation in the state. He would also work for expeditious implementation of the development projects and find a solution to the people’s problems.
Deepak Singhal’s removal came hours after principal secretary (mining) Gurdeep Singh was transferred to food and civil supplies department replacing Sudhir Garg, who was made principal secretary (mining). The CBI is probing allegations of corruption in the mining department on the direction of the Allahabad high court.
In an image-refurbishing exercise ahead of Assembly elections, Akhilesh had on Monday sacked two ministers -- mining minister Gayatri Prajapati and panchayti raj minister Rajkishore Singh -- facing corruption charges.
The Opposition, however, dubbed their sacking as a “poll-oriented eyewash”.
(With inputs from PTI)