Stalin appoints new officers to key administrative positions
Chennai: M K Stalin has appointed officers with a good track record to key administrative positions after he took oath as Tamil Nadu chief minister last week. Anti-corruption activists and political analysts are of the opinion that, both new DMK loyalists and experienced officers from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) regime have been retained to ensure a good set of hands are at the helm during a pandemic.
A look at five personnel in key postings-
1. P Kandasamy, Director, Directorate of Vigilance and anti-Corruption (DVAC)
Kandasamy prefers to remain low-key perhaps why didn’t draw a lot of attention until social media recalled that he was in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team that arrested present Union home minister Amit Shah, during his tenure as a minister in Gujarat in 2010, for his alleged involvement in the Sohrabuddin encounter case. At that time Kandasamy was deputed to the CBI for five years as the CBI deputy inspector general of police, Chennai and CBI joint director, Mumbai.
Shah was later discharged.
Kandasamy who is of the rank of a DGP and his appointment to head the DVAC comes at a time when the DMK has promised to try all charges of corruption under the outgoing AIADMK government headed by Edappadi K Palaniswami. The DMK, in its election manifesto, had promised to constitute a special
court to try cases against AIADMK ministers accused of graft.
A 1989 batch officer, Kandasamy holds a Master’s degree in public policy from University of California, Berkeley, and is presently pursuing a part time PhD in the department of management studies at IIT-Madras. He has served in various districts, including Madurai, as police commissioner.
Before his transfer to this post, he was special director general of police, administration. He won the President of India Police Medal for meritorious service in 2006 and the Tamil Nadu chief minister’s medal for excellence in public service in 2019 under the AIADMK regime.
2. R Shunmugasundaram, Advocate General, Tamil Nadu
A leading criminal lawyer, Shunmugasundaram was a DMK Rajya Sabha member from 2002-2008. He is said to be the chief architect in the high-profile disproportionate assets (DA) case in which the Supreme Court found late former chief minister J Jayalalithaa, her close aide V K Sasikala and two others guilty. “It is a challenging battle when you prosecute a chief minister who came back to power and stalled the case,” says Shunmugasundaram. “In the history of the country, this is the only state and party that has pursued a case where a former dispensation was prosecuted. Normally such steps aren’t taken because it may come back to you. I had the privilege of being a lawyer in this case.” Shanmugasundaram was attacked at his Chennai residence on May 30, 1995, while preparing to file a case of corruption against Jayalalithaa. “But that never stopped me.”
A designated senior advocate, Shunmugasundaram served as the state public prosecutor from 1996 to 2001 in the Madras high court. During this he was appointed as amicus curiae in the London hotel case (one of the DA cases filed) against Jayalalithaa in which Sasikala’s nephew T T V Dinakaran was another accused. The case was, however, withdrawn later.
He was appointed as a counsel for Tamil Nadu before the Justice M C Jain Commission of Inquiry to assist the probe into the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
His first appearance as Tamil Nadu’s Advocate General was on Monday before the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, who are hearing suo motu case on the Covid-19 management in the state. His association with the DMK goes back to 1992 when he appeared for G Vaiko’s (who was with DMK at that time) brother and Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan (who was defeated this election) in the sensational Padmanabha murder case. He also appeared for Karunanidhi’s family members- Kanimozhi and later Dayalu Ammal in the 2G case. In 2001, Murasoli Maran wanted him to assist with the party’s legal matters in the Rajya Sabha, he said. Shanmugasundaram was head of the DMK’s legal wing until he was posted as AG.
3. Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Commissioner, Greater Chennai Corporation
Bedi was agriculture secretary in the previous AIADMK government and is being retained by the DMK as he is known to be a clean hand and also a disaster management expert.
“Bedi’s report on illegal sand mining in Tamil Nadu is instrumental till date with Jayalalithaa banning beach sand mining and subsequent court orders on the issue,” Jayaram Venkatesan, founder of anti-corruption movement, Arappor Iyakkam, said.
A 1993 batch officer, Bedi had initially served as commissioner
of Madurai corporation (1999 to 2001) and district collector of Kanyakumari and Cuddalore in (2001 to 2007).
He played a key role in rescue and rehabilitation work after the 2004 tsunami caused havoc in coastal Cuddalore. Former American president Bill Clinton even spent a day with him to understand the relief work.
Bedi also handled major floods in 2005 and 2015 and cyclones
in the sensitive districts of Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari. As civic chief of Chennai, which has the highest caseload of Covid-19 in the state, Bedi, after taking over, said, “My immediate focus is to break the chain, reduce positivity rate and increase oxygen beds.”
Bedi has planned to introduce a 100-bed facility with oxygen concentrators in each of the three regions in Chennai and has also brought about changes such as providing a medicine kit to anyone who takes an RT-PCR test to ensure they do not have to wait to be treated until the test results arrive.
4. Shilpa Prabhakar, head, CM in your Constituency
‘CM in your constituency’ is a new department created by Stalin to resolve public grievances within 100 days of forming the government - a promise he made during his poll campaign ‘Stalin in your constituency’.
Prabhakar has been handed over the keys of the box in which the petitions, that were collected during the poll campaign, were kept locked and sealed till the beginning of the new government.
Prabhakar was deputy commissioner for education in the Greater Chennai Corporation where she roped in NGOs to offer corporation students more learning and extracurricular activities. In 2019, she admitted her child in a government-run anganwadi in Tirunelveli where she was posted as a district collector. She also drew public attention when she climbed atop 40 and 80-feet water tanks to check its cleanliness.
5. V Irai Anbu, chief secretary, Tamil Nadu
A seasoned IAS officer and writer, who a day ago, instructed government officials not to buy books written by him and present them to him at events. Anbu also warned his officials to deduct money from their salary if they used public funds for this purpose, and deposit them into a government account.
The chief secretary also wrote to the School Education Department, asking officials not to buy his books till he holds the post.
Political observers believe that his integrity caused him to be sidelined with unimportant portfolios earlier. “ “All officers appointed are efficient and one of the reasons for Irai Anbu’s appointment could be to have a more cordial relationship with the Prime Minister’s Office,” said political commentator Maalan Narayanan.
Anbu received the Si Pa Aditanar Literary Award for the year 2017 from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His brother, V Thiruppugazh, has a closer connection with Modi. Thiruppugazh, a 1995 batch officer of the Gujarat cadre, had served as Modi’s secretary in 2005-06 when the latter served as Gujarat chief minister. Thiruppugazh served in the Modi administration at the Centre too and was appointed as Advisor in the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in 2017.