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ML Khattar to prune army of OSDs, advisers

india Updated: May 02, 2016 11:10 IST
Hitender Rao
Manohar Lal Khattar

Khattar has almost a dozen political appointees, mostly from the RSS stable, as his aides and advisers.(HT Photo)

The bunch of officers on special duty (OSDs) and advisers deployed in the office of Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar are in for some pruning. Khattar has almost a dozen such political appointees, mostly from the RSS stable, as his aides and advisers.

Since most of them owe their entry into the chief minister’s office to their RSS or connections in the BJP central leadership, there was a question on their loyalty quotient towards the chief minister. Also, there have been complaints from MLAs, who accused them of interfering in posting and transfers while a couple of the aides were learnt to be in “close touch” with real estate developers and corporate sector.

First blood

The latest casualty has been Vijay Sharma, an Indian Railways Accounts Service (IRAS) official who was brought on deputation to state as Khattar’s OSD in June 2015. Sharma got into the chief minister’s office (CMO) after the RSS and party in-charge of Haryana Anil Jain pushed his case. However, he has now been sent packing back to the ministry of railways rather unceremoniously.

Indications of his ouster were palpable after the IRAS officer pushed for revision of his terms and conditions. The new set of terms and conditions issued by the chief secretary on March 19, 2016 stipulated that his period of deputation will be five years or earlier as decided by the state government. This was quite contrary to the initial terms and conditions issued in July 2015 which said that his term of deputation will be for five years from the date he assumed charge - June 6, 2015. Eyebrows were also raised when Sharma got himself sanctioned two official vehicles - one from the chief secretary’s establishment and the second from the excise and taxation department. Only chief secretary and principal secretary to the chief minister are entitled to two official vehicles. Besides, Sharma also availed a sumptuary allowance of Rs 10,000 per month, a remuneration only meant for politicians.

Long list of aides

While Jawahar Yadav was officially the first one to be moved out of the chief minister’s office (CMO), he was accommodated as chairman of Haryana Housing Board. Top BJP sources said Khattar is likely to move out some of the other OSDs and advisers out of Chandigarh. These include OSD’s Capt Bhupinder and Bhupeshwar Dayal, who could be relocated to Hisar and Sonepat respectively. OSD (media) Raj Kumar Bhardwaj is also learnt to be on the chopping block.

Another unofficial aide of the chief minister, Arun Sangwan, who operates from the chief minister’s residence, could be moved out to Haryana Bhawan in New Delhi. Sangwan is the brother of Haryana additional advocate general (AAG) Alok Sangwan. Alok incidentally also remained AAG during the Congress rule. “Once they are relocated, their meddling in day to day affairs becomes negligible. That’s what the idea seems to be in moving them out,’’ said a party source.

New entrants

While a staunch Khattar loyalist, Neeraj Daftuar has already made entry into the chief minister’s office as principal OSD, the services of a Delhi Andaman Nicobar Island Police Service (DANIPS) officer, Rajneesh Garg has been sought by the Haryana government. Garg,who is presently posted in Delhi as deputy commissioner of police, economic offences wing, will be appointed as OSD in Haryana chief minister’s office. Sources said that he will be entrusted with the task of overseeing the various police investigations into cases pertaining to the tenure of the Congress government.