Over-enthusiastic, pro-active, assertive, arrogant, fast, aggressive — these were some adjectives routinely used to describe Vijay Kumar Dev, the now-ousted adviser to the UT administrator, who had taken the chair barely 15 months ago and was transferred to Delhi on Wednesday.
In the process of garnering bouquets and brickbats, he ruffled many feathers within the government set-up.
A primary reason being cited for a premature end to his three-year tenure is his rubbing the local BJP leadership the wrong way, and also his alleged cold vibe with his boss, UT administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki, who is the Punjab and Haryana governor.
How the adviser ruffled feathers all around
PM visit ‘overboard’ arrangement
The UT adviser came in the eye of a storm when the administration went overboard in making security arrangements for PM Narendra Modi’s visit in September 2015. This earned Modi, too, bad press across the country as schools were shut and the city’s main cremation ground made out of bounds for residents. Modi later regretted the inconvenience in a tweet and an explanation was also sought. Even when French President Françoise Hollande and Modi met here two months ago, there was a much-panned effort to cover up the ugly side of the city by putting up a wall of bamboo straw to hide the facade of Hallomajra.
Cold to governor
Though Dev was only his adviser, so to speak, administrator Solanki, a BJP veteran who has Modi’s ear, was learnt to be unhappy with his centralised style of functioning for the past few months. The cold equation came to fore this year on Republic Day Dev as Dev had to cancel his ‘At Home’ for officers and dignitaries as Solanki did not want him to hold one besides the one at the Raj Bhawan. The adviser and his coterie were seen taking major decisions not fully taking the administrator into confidence. A senior officer from the administrator office said, “He (Dev) was flying too high. Chandigarh is a special UT as it is the capital of Punjab and Haryana, and officers cannot be sensitive towards the needs of the two states. Bureaucratic limits need to be followed.” Note, that owing to citing the much-panned renovation at his office, Dev was using the UT administrator’s office at the secretariat ever since he had joined.
Differences with MP
Initially, Dev and MP Kirron Kher went along well, but with time the MP felt officers were not carrying forward her projects. The MP had said that being chairperson of the district advisory committee to ensure monitoring of central programmes such as employment generation, she had neither received any invitation to chair the meeting nor any details of previous meetings. Kher and Dev had a difference of opinion over the setting up of a Film City too, a pet project of the actor-politician who wanted it to be handled by private firms while Dev wanted it in government domain.
Local BJP anger
Local BJP chief Sanjay Tandon had met Union home minister Rajnath Singh against the proposal of shifting of 13 villages from UT administration to the MC’s purview. In his representation before the election commission the adviser had recommended bringing the 13 villages under Municipal Corporation. But UT administrator and Sanjay Tandon did not want the villages to come under the MC’s ambit and have an independent ambit.
During Dev’s tenure, the ratio of UT, Punjab and Haryana cadres was disturbed. Most important departments were with UT cadre, to which Dev too belongs. He even curtailed powers of current DC Ajit Balaji Joshi by taking away excise and taxation from the Haryana-cadre IAS officer. Before Joshi, Dev and DC Mohammed Shayin remained at loggerheads before Shayin was unceremoniously removed from the post. The reason for that was seen as ‘leaked’ news reports about a Rs 2-crore renovation at the adviser’s residence. Lower officials were also unhappy with his disparaging remarks and fixing deadlines, though this had endeared Dev to the residents.
Style, a mixed bag
His large security entourage disturbed many while there was also praise over his accessibility to the public. His equation with the media depended on whether or not you sang paeans to him as he virtually blacklisted journalists who criticised his ways and moves. But his image of a tough taskmaster and attending almost all possible functions — from dancing to singing to cutting ribbons — made him popular as a ‘people’s person’. Yet, the quick and aggressive style resulted in anger too, such as
over the Sector-17 removal of over- and under-sized boards that left the central shopping district ravaged.
The almighty decides where one stays: Dev
What do you have to say about your sudden transfer from Chandigarh? I am totally illiterate on this. The ministry of home affairs is the controlling authority and they have decided the when and why. I believe that ‘Jitna dana pani likha hota hai, utna milta hai. Uper wala decide karta hai’. (It is the almighty that decides where one stays and how)
There are talks that ‘your own’ colleagues were behind your sudden exit? I believe in positivity and no negativity for anybody at all. I have always maintained complete positivity all my life for everybody — be it politicians or officers. I also believe that whatever is destined will happen. ‘Jo bhi uparwala script likhta hai uske hisab se hota hai.’ (God writes your script and you move accordingly).
City residents are reacting to your transfer. Your take on this. I have received 15,000 messages in two minutes ever since the news of my transfer came out. I have got tearful messages in which residents have poured out their love for me. I believe one should accept one’s fate as a king. ‘Jo upperwale ne likha hai wohi hoga, hamare pass jane ka order aayga hum chale jayenge rukne ka ayega toh ruk jayenge’ (What has been destined for you will happen. I will leave when ordered and if orders come for me to stay, I will stay).