The Centre’s move to appoint retired bureaucrat and BJP leader KJ Alphons as Chandigarh administrator was put on hold on Wednesday after objection from the Shiromani Akali Dal government in Punjab.
Alphons confirmed the development, saying the Punjab government had raised certain technical issues.
The appointment of 63-year Alphons, a former IAS officer of the 1979 batch from Kerala, is set to end a 32-year practice of the Punjab governor holding additional charge of the union territory.
“I received a call from home minister Rajnath Singh last evening, informing me of the development. I am in Kerala, but will leave for New Delhi soon. The orders are expected to reach me in the evening,” he told Hindustan Times over the phone on Wednesday afternoon.
Alphons is best known for his demolition drive against illegal encroachments in the national capital when he was heading the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in the 1990s. He quit bureaucracy in 2006 and joined the BJP in 2011.
“I am happy that the Prime Minister has reposed faith in me to give such a position. It’s a great city ... it’s a great job ... Though I don’t know much about the city, I have read a lot about it,” Alphons told PTI. Later, he told HT that he had been told the orders were not being issued.
Alphons’s appointment would have ended the Punjab Raj Bhawan’s role in the administration of Chandigarh, which has a unique position as the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, but is directly administered by the Centre.
The practice of the Punjab governor also holding the charge of the Chandigarh administrator was put in place in 1984 at the height of terrorism in the border state to facilitate a smooth coordination on security issues. Punjab was then under President’s rule. Immediately before that, Chandigarh was administered by a chief commissioner, a serving bureaucrat, who reported to the Union government.
ALPHONS TURNED FROM LEFT TO RIGHT
As a civil servant, Alphons was known as much for his dynamism as for courting controversies with his ruthless actions. As Kottayam deputy commissioner in 1989, he started a movement that turned it into a 100% literate district.
In 1992, he gave a dissenting note in the Palmolein oil deal case that led to his transfer from Kerala. He came to Delhi as commissioner of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and demolished 14,000 buildings, some of them connected to Congress politicians. He claimed to have secured 1,500 acres worth Rs 10,000 crore.
He took voluntary retirement from the civil services in 2006 and contested as an independent candidate supported by the Left Democratic Front. He represented Kanjirappally assembly seat in Kerala. He went on to float the Jana Shakti for cleansing public life. In 2011, he joined the BJP and is a member of its national executive committee.