Unhappy with his appointment as Tribal Development secretary, senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Uttam Khobragade is toying with the idea to join politics.
Khobragade, who served as general manager of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport undertaking (BEST), was relocated as principal secretary of the Tribal Development department two days ago.
Reluctant to take up new assignment, the officer has proceeded on a long leave from Thursday. He now wants his Dalit followers to decide whether he should quit the IAS to join active politics.
Khobragade’s transfer saw his followers from the Dalit organisations staging protests across the city on Thursday. “All options are open to me. My followers will decide my future course of action. I will quit if they say so,” Khobragade told Hindustan Times on Friday. “I’m getting so many calls from politicians and social organisations [since I proceeded on leave].”
When asked what prompted him to take such a stand, the 59-year-old officer refused to share more details. “I have just a year left in my service. I will retire next year.”
Since Khobragade is a strong believer in Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s ideologies, political circles felt that he might prefer political outfit that shares his belief.
Republican Party of India (A) president Ramdas Athwale said Khobragade would as asset for any party. “I will talk to him at a suitable time. I assure that he will get a place of pride in our organisation because he deserves it.”
The Congress may also try lure the IAS officer, who has been close to several Congress leaders including former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh.
Congress badly needs a Dalit face which is acceptable and popular across the state. A senior Congressman said that Khobragade was in touch with senior Congress leaders during the last Assembly polls and had volunteered to quit IAS if he got the poll ticket. “We would be happy to have him with us. He can be of great help,” he added.