Union home minister Rajnath Singh, one of the senior-most figures in the cabinet, has failed to get his choice of private secretary (PS) which appears to have been supported by bureaucratic and party politics. Interestingly, a rule put in effect by the Manmohan Singh government has been used to keep out Singh’s choice of a PS.
Singh had selected Alok Singh, a 1996-batch IPS officer from his home state of Uttar Pradesh but Singh’s past role in the office of Salman Khurshid, his Police background and his tenure made the choice unacceptable, said sources. Alok had started working with the minister since May 29 and was awaiting his formal orders.
The PMO is reluctant to approve his choice as Alok has completed almost four years as PS to a minister in the UPA government. Also, he had earlier served under Khurshid, a former cabinet minister who had frequently taken on the BJP.
Sources indicated that there were two issues that affected the home minister’s choice; one, that Alok had served under Khurshid and therefore wasn’t welcome in the NDA dispensation, second, he was an IPS officer and the IAS lobby was not happy to cede ground in such an appointment.
“It was felt that this is a position that has been traditionally held by the IAS. Therefore, to have an IPS as the PS was not acceptable to the bureaucracy,” a source in the home ministry told HT. Officials also cite that there is a rule that any officer who has served as PS to a minister for five years cannot serve for a longer period. For officers posted as an officer on special duty (OSD), the maximum time allowed is ten years. Alok did not respond to a text message sent to him on Monday.
Rajnath had chosen him because he was familiar with his work and also because he wanted a police officer to serve with him since MHA’s primary duties deal with internal security issues.