On Independence Day, Raj Bhawan was abuzz with activity as people from different walks of life made way into Barnes court to attend the 'At Home' ceremony hosted by governor Urmila Singh. However, a majority of politicians, bureaucrats and police officers were conspicuous by their absence even as the governor's secretariat had sent out a large number of invites.
Barring a few local leaders, health minister Kaul Singh Thakur was the only prominent political leader who attended the ceremony. Thakur presided over the Independence Day function on the ridge and in the evening drove to the Raj Bhawan.
CM AWAY TO DELHI
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who hoisted the national flag at the state-level function at Nahan, drove to Delhi for his “official and personal” engagements.
Apart from Kaul Singh Thakur, the function was attended state Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, mayor Sanjay Chauhan and deputy mayor Tikender Panwar.
Local legislator Suresh Bhardwaj also skipped the function owing to his “personal engagements”.
Among others who attended the ceremony included Ashwani Kumar, former Nagaland governor; Janeb Chandel, chairperson, State Women's Commission; Bhim Sen, chief information commissioner; KS Tomar, chairman, HP Public Service Commission; Lt. General Sanjeev Madhok, GOC-in-C, ARTRAC; and ADN Bajpai, vice-chancellor, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla,There were fewer Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers at the At Home. Additional chief secretary (Health) Vineet Chaudhary additional chief secretary (language, art and culture) Upma Chaudhary and principal secretary (finance) DR Shrikant Baldui were present on the occasion.
“I had informed the governor's secretariat that I will not be able to make it as I had to attend the state-level Independence Day celebrations at Nahan,” chief secretary P Mitra said.
DGP LOOKING INTO ABSENCE OF IPS OFFICERS
Only three Indian Police Service (IPS) officers attended the function at the Raj Bhawan, including inspector general of police Abhishek Trivedi, his wife IG (crime) Satwant Atwal Trivedi and Shimla superintendent of police DW Negi.
The absence of police officers has certainly not gone down well with director general of police (DGP) Sanjay Kumar. “I am trying to ascertain the reasons for the police officers' absence at the function. Once I receive the information, I will issue a circular to ensure that police officers remain present at the functions at the Raj Bhawan,” the DGP told Hindustan Times.
DESERTED LOOK AT SECRETARIAT
What's more surprisingly that with chief minister Virbhadra Singh away to Delhi for his personal and official works, Himachal Pradesh secretariat wore a deserted look on Saturday. It appeared to be a virtual holiday as there was hardly anybody present in the secretariat.
None of the ministers attended their offices in the secretariat. Irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes remained in her office prior to lunch. The Armdale building, which houses the offices of IAS officers, was also deserted. There were only four senior IAS officers who attended their offices, while others were either on official tour or leave. Similarly, the attendance of the lower-rung staff in the secretariat was negligible.