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Rag may go Pawan way

WITHIN A month of his posting, IAS officer Pankaj Rag is being removed from the post of Commissioner Culture as unceremoniously as his predecessor Pawan Jain, IPS was removed on February 12 last.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2006 12:22 IST

WITHIN A month of his posting, IAS officer Pankaj Rag is being removed from the post of Commissioner Culture as unceremoniously as his predecessor Pawan Jain, IPS was removed on February 12 last. 

Now a move is afoot to bring Archeological Survey of India superintendent Phanikant Mishra to the post. Mishra is said to be essentially a Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) choice. 

The file about Mishra’s appointment is awaiting the Chief Minister’s approval. It has the recommendation of State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) organisation general secretary Kaptan Singh Solanki and Culture Minister Laxmikant Sharma. Mishra being a Government of India employee, his posting as Director, Culture may take a week or so before the State Government’s proposal for deputation is cleared, said sources.

When contacted, Phanikant Mishra refused to confirm or deny the move to appoint him. Pankaj Rag is currently in West Bengal as an Election Commission observer for the State Assembly  election. Rag, a poet and historian, is known for his deep passion for culture and arts. But before he could settle down, he is being removed.

Sources cite two reasons for the hasty move to remove Rag. First, Culture Minister Laxmikant Sharma was averse to giving him the charge of culture from beginning. Secondly, the RSS lobby has eventually found a person of its choice, said sources in the Culture department.

According to some other sources, immediate provocation for the move to remove Rag came when Laxmikant Sharma could not be informed about the change in timings of the last Art Council’s meeting, which the Chief Minister chaired. This enraged Sharma.

The meeting, which was supposed to begin at 5.00 pm was advanced to 4.30 pm at the behest of the Chief Minister, who had some other engagements later in the evening. In what is being construed as a ‘conspiracy’ by many in the culture department, Sharma was not informed about change in timing.Later, an upper division clerk in the Language Department Vijay Bhale Rao was suspended for the lapse. And, a couple of days later Rag left for West Bengal.

Laxmikant Sharma could not be contacted as he was busy in electioneering in Budhni and his mobile was out of range.