100 days of Congress govt in Punjab: Captain’s lieutenants who now call the shots
In the past 100 days, a large number of loyalists have been inducted into his personal team at the chief minister’s office. But a few chosen are calling the shots.punjab Updated: Jun 25, 2017 20:54 IST
Capt Amarinder Singh was sworn in as the Punjab chief minister on March 16, but he had already started picking up trusted lieutenants for his office.
In the past 100 days, a large number of loyalists have been inducted into his personal team at the chief minister’s office. But a few chosen are calling the shots.
If the state government were an orchestra, the chief minister (CM)’s chief principal secretary Suresh Kumar would be its conductor, ensuring all instruments play in sync.
“I am not a driver, I am a conductor,” Suresh Kumar says quite often. But here he’s talking about a different conductor — who ensures the passengers have a comfortable ride on the bus. And he is quite capable at performing that duty.
Now, a shadow of the CM, Kumar — a 1983-batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer — was a principal secretary to Amarinder during his previous tenure (2002-07), and retired last year. Soft spoken and master of administrative matters, he can get the work done without raising his voice. The CM depends upon him to suggest on key matters and also implement the decisions to the letter.
Capt’s present principal secretary Tejveer Singh — another trusted lieutenant — was the Patiala deputy commissioner during Amarinder’s first tenure. It was during this period that he came close to Amarinder and knows well the functioning style of a government under him.
An affable 1994-batch IAS officer who means business, Singh was called in from the LBS National Academy for Administration, Mussoorie, where he was a joint director.
MP Singh, a retired Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officer, knows his way around the corridors of New Moti Bagh palace – the Patiala residence of Punjab CM. He is an officer on special duty-cum-secretary to the CM.
Close to both Capt and his wife Preneet Kaur, MP Singh’s importance can be judged from the duty assigned to him: “Anyone who wants to meet the CM will first come to MP Singh”. He has an office in the CMO, but most often he sits at the CM’s residence.
Whatever goes into the media from the CMO goes through Raveen Thukral, a former editor.
An old Capt confidante, Thukral joined him during the poll campaign to look after the media. He was retained as the media adviser to the CM on government formation and accompanies Capt on all important meetings.
To deal with problems of politicians who come with requests for the “works to be done” in their constituencies, Capt Sandeep Sandhu is the go-to- guy. The political secretary to the CM, he is the interface between the CM and Congress MLAs and AICC.
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