Former bureaucrats get top billing in Modi's cabinet

Two former administrative service officers, ex-top cop among nine new inductees in Modi’s cabinet.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2017 23:58 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Cabinet reshuffle,Modi cabinet reshuffle,Narendra Modi
BJP chief Amit Shah greets PM Narendra Modi in New Delhi.(PTi File Photo)

Retired bureaucrats have got top billing in the Union cabinet with two former administrative service officers — Delhi’s demolition man K J Alphons and Union home secretary RK Singh — and ex-Mumbai commissioner Satyapal Singh to be sworn-in as ministers on Sunday.

The government on Saturday announced nine names for inclusion in the council of ministers after six ministers had resigned. In all, there are 14 vacancies in the council. PM Narendra Modi has chosen professionals with experience of the government functioning over politicians in probably the NDA’s last reshuffle before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

KJ Alphons, 1979 batch IAS officer, is considered an urban affairs expert, as he got the nick-name “demolition man” for removing encroachments in the national capital when he was Delhi Development Authority commissioner and improving urban spaces in Kottayam, Kerala. Before joining BJP, he had a frosty relation with the CPI(M) in Kerala. In 2006, he quit civil service and won from Christian-dominated Kanjirapally assembly segment as the CPI(M) backed independent candidate. However, he quit the party five years down the line and joined the BJP. Politically, he tried to bridge the communication gap between the RSS and the Christians.

Unlike Alphons, a 1975 batch IAS officer and former home secretary R K Singh, joined the BJP just before 2014 general elections and won from Arrah in Bihar.

Before his tryst with politics, Singh was home secretary for two years (2011-2013). He did not enjoy cordial relation with the then home minister and Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde, who had reportedly chided Singh for handling of protest after 2016 Delhi gang rape case.

Singh’s first brush with BJP was in 1990 when he was Samastipur’s district collector. Then Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad had asked him to stop Lal Krishan Advani’s Somnath to Ayodhya rath yatra. Singh arrested Advani giving construction of Ram temple a new momentum.

Singh caught party’s attention when he expressed his unhappiness over ticket distribution in 2015 Bihar polls saying criminals have been nominated.

Satyapal Singh, 61, is known more as tough Mumbai’s former commissioner, who took early retirement to join BJP a year before 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He turned out to be giant killer as he defeated RLD chief Ajit Singh from his bastion Bhagpat in western Uttar Pradesh. Weeks after being appointed to head a special investigation team constituted by the Gujarat high court in June 2011 to probe Isharat Jahan encounter case, Singh quit citing differences with other two members of the team. An IPS officer of the Maharashtra cadre, Singh once described himself as “biggest goonda” of Mumbai.

(With inputs from Ramesh Babu in Trivandaram and Surendra P Gagan in Mumbai.)

First Published: Sep 02, 2017 23:58 IST