The Akhilesh Yadav government transferred 15 IAS officers, including two senior bureaucrats, considered close to former cabinet minister Shivpal Yadav on Friday.
The move comes at a time chief minister Akhilesh and his uncle Shivpal are locked in a tussle that threatens to disrupt the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Aradhana Shukla, the principal secretary from the public works department (PWD) -- a ministry that Akhilesh had stripped Shivpal of a fortnight ago -- has been shifted to the transport department in the same capacity. Instead, Sudhir Garg, the principal secretary of mining, was moved to replace her.
The charge of officer on special duty (OSD), Noida, was also withdrawn from Shukla.
Further, PWD secretary Anurag Yadav was made secretary of the khadi and rural industries department.
Both Shukla and Yadav are considered close to Shivpal who was divested of key portfolios on September 13, triggering a feud in the SP‘s first family. Most of the departments, except the PWD, were returned to Shivpal on September 17. Akhilesh kept the PWD portfolio with himself while giving 14 departments to his uncle.
Speculation of Shukla and Yadav’s transfers were rife in bureaucratic circles after the chief minister took charge of the PWD.
The CM reviewed the working of the PWD on September 19 and directed officers to complete the pending projects on schedule.
“All the district headquarters will be connected with four-lane roads. The Varanasi-Shakti Nagar highway will be completed by November 15. The Bridge Corporation has been directed to complete all the projects by November,” he said.
He expressed displeasure over the delay in the projects and warned the officers of action.
Talking to Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity, a senior officer said, “The chief minister is aware of the fact that roads will play an important role in fighting anti-incumbency and pave the way for his return to power. There are five months to go for the assembly election. If he completes the urban and rural road projects before polls, it will send a positive message to the people. Before launching the road and bridge projects, he wants the officers loyal to him on important posts.”
“Roads were an important factor in Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s return to power for the third consecutive time. Akhilesh wishes to do a Nitish by launching massive road and bridge projects before the elections. He is monitoring the expressway, state highway and rural roads project regularly,” a SP leader said.
“The central government is also pumping funds into roads to woo the voters. Recently, Union minister for roads transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari, launched several projects in Gorakhpur, Meerut, Varanasi and Lucknow. The chief minister planned to counter the centre’s roads with his projects like the Agra-Lucknow expressway and district highways,” the party leader added.
To read more on the Yadav family feud, click here