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Gurdaspur bypoll: 3 OSDs of Punjab CM Capt Amarinder in soup over violating CMO’s orders

Sources in the chief minister’s office (CMO) said three OSDs — Bawa Sandhu (based in Amritsar), Jagdeep Sidhu and Sonu Dhesi — are facing the axe for repeatedly violating the CMO’s orders. They are unlikely to get their positions back.

punjab Updated: Oct 26, 2017 09:04 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Gurdaspur bypoll,Punjab CM,Capt Amarinder
Sandeep Bawa Sandhu, Sonu Dheshi and Jagdeep Sidhu. (HT Photo)

Hitting headlines often over controversial issues ever since the Congress government took over in Punjab six months ago, politically appointed officers on special duty (OSD) with chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh are once again in the soup.

Sources in the chief minister’s office (CMO) said three OSDs — Bawa Sandhu (based in Amritsar), Jagdeep Sidhu and Sonu Dhesi — are facing the axe for repeatedly violating the CMO’s orders.

  • CM Amarinder has a battery of eight politically appointed OSDs. Besides Sandhu, Sidhu and Dhesi, other OSDs are Sandeep Brar, Damanjeet Singh Mohi, Ankit Bansal, Narendra Bhambri and Amritpartap Singh Sekhon.
  • Ever since their appointment, these OSDs have generated many a controversy.
  • On two occasions, the wings of these OSDs were clipped after repeated complaints regarding their acts going beyond their jurisdiction.
  • Just a few days after their appointment, the CM had restrained them from entering his official residence.
  • On August 20, chief principal secretary to CM, Suresh Kumar, noted in a letter that these OSDs were directly issuing letters to ministers and MLAs. He had then directed them to move all letters through the CMO.
  • Several questions have already been raised over the role of the OSDs. Even within the ruling Congress, some leaders have raised the issue of considering educational qualification or political experience of appointees in such prestigious posts.

The latest violation they made, the sources said, was not to abide by the CMO’s directive to stay away from the election campaign of the ruling Congress for recently held Gurdaspur bypoll.

Since these OSDs are drawing salaries from the government, they cannot participate in any political activity during the period when the model code of conduct is in force, as per the Election Commission (EC) guidelines.

As per complaints received by the CMO, Sonu Dhesi uploaded his pictures on Facebook about attending a function in Gurdaspur whereas Bawa Sandhu has been accused of accompanying some Congress leaders during the campaign.

The three OSDs also featured in some newspaper pictures, especially on the day when the election result was announced, the sources said.

A day after the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Sunil Jakhar won the bypoll on October 16, the upset CMO asked the three OSDs to submit their resignations as a damage control exercise, the sources said, adding that the resignation letters procured from them do not mention any date.

“Though it’s a fact that these OSDs did not have any role in the campaign, they showed immaturity and over-enthusiasm on two or three occasions and attended some events just for photo-shoot for newspapers. But the CMO was upset as they overlooked the CM’s specific directive to all his political appointees not to show up during the campaign,” said a senior official in the CMO, on the condition of anonymity.

He said the resignations were taken to pre-empt any action from the Election Commission. Notably, Amarinder had asked his political advisor Captain Sandeep Sandhu to oversee Jakhar’s campaign. But the CM asked Sandhu to first resign from his post.

Now when the elections are over, Sandhu will get re-appointed in his post, the sources said, adding that the relevant file reached the chief secretary’s office on Wednesday.

However, the three OSDs are unlikely to get their positions back. When contacted, Bawa Sandhu evaded HT’s query over his resignation. He initially said his namesake Captain Sandeep Sandhu had resigned, not him. Later, he said, “I won’t say yes and I won’t say even no over my resignation.”

Jagdeep Sidhu, however, claimed that he had resigned in advance to join the Congress campaign in Gurdaspur. “I am hopeful of getting re-appointed and our file will be cleared in a day or two,” he said.

Sonu Dhesi was not available for comments.

First Published: Oct 26, 2017 09:04 IST