The suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal caused a political storm on Saturday as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi came out in her support, prompting a sharp retort from the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh.
A file photo of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal. (HT Photo)
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday, Gandhi asked him to ensure Nagpal was treated fairly. “There is widespread concern because the officer, in the course of her public duty, was seen to be standing up to vested interests engaging in illegal activity,” she said. Read Sonia's letter
The SP’s Naresh Aggarwal said Gandhi should write two more letters: "One about suspended Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka and another to the Rajasthan CM for suspending two IAS officers. In both cases, related to land deals, the name of Robert Vadra had cropped up.”
The Akhilesh Yadav government — under mounting pressure to revoke the suspension — seems to be getting ready to ride the storm. Sources said Meerut divisional commissioner Manjit Singh has forwarded a draft charge sheet to the government that will be served on Nagpal after it is examined by the appointment department.
However, when contacted by HT, Singh feigned ignorance and said he’d look into it only after Ramzan and the Kanwaria movement.
But the government may do some damage control and act against one of its own. SP leader Narendra Bhati — whose boast of getting Nagpal suspended in 41 minutes flew in the face of the state’s stand that she was penalised for demolishing a mosque wall — is likely to lose his candidature for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as well as his minister rank.
A complaint against Bhati has also gone to the National Commission for Women.
As support for Nagpal — the 28-year-old sub-divisional magistrate of Greater Noida who had become a thorn in the side of the sand mafia — grows by the day, a PMO official said the department of personnel has already sought a response from the UP government. Government officials insisted the Centre could not directly advice the state unless it received a report or the state sought confirmation of the suspension.
Seeking long-term measures to tackle such incidents of harassment, Gandhi said, “The implementation machinery must feel the conditions are conducive to the delivery of public services without fear or favour. I know some good beginnings have been made towards administrative reforms, but the issues that have come to be profiled in Ms Nagpal’s case also need focus.”
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