'Accommodating' Hooda keeps close bureaucrats around

Chandigarh, Sep 20 (IANS) In Haryana, being close to Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has meant pay dirt for a particular set of bureaucrats and officials.

In the over eight years that Hooda has been at the helm (in two terms) since March 2005, bureaucrats and officials have not only benefited with best posts but also from the chief minister's post-retirement largesse.

In a recent development, Hooda himself appointed two principal secretaries - S.S. Dhillon and K.K. Khandelwal - a move unprecedented in the state.

It's a well-known fact in Haryana government circles that when Hooda's outgoing principal secretary Chhatar Singh was retiring on March 31, there was a race between a section of powerful bureaucrats to get the coveted post since it is considered the most important bureaucratic assignment in Haryana. Hooda, who was under pressure from various quarters, instead, chose to give a three-month extension to Chhatar Singh, further extended by three months.

Chhatar Singh left the post only after the central government cleared him to be a member of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Thanks to Hooda, Chhatar Singh's post-retirement stint is taken care of for the next five years.

Hooda announced Dhillon as his new principal secretary. Within days, Khandelwal, who was sulking at not being appointed, was also announced a principal secretary. Senior bureaucrats are wondering how two senior officers can be hoisted on a cadre post.

Haryana Chief Secretary P.K. Chaudhary was granted a six-month extension when he was to retire on June 30. Chaudhary is the brother-in-law of Haryana Industries Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala.

Home Secretary Samir Mathur, who was to retire last month, was also granted a three- month extension.

Last week, Mohinder Lal, who retired as the Haryana governor's secretary, was appointed vice chancellor of a government university in the state.

While some bureaucrats have got extensions, others have been accommodated in cushy post-retirement jobs. The husband-wife team of Naresh Gulati, a former chief secretary, and Urvashi Gulati, has been appointed to the state information commission for a five-year stint. Naresh Gulati is the chief information commissioner.

Ranjit Dalal, who remained director general of police (DGP) for six years, was appointed chairman of the Haryana Institute of Public Administration in Gurgaon after he retired last October.

Other bureaucrats who have been accommodated by Hooda include former chief secretary Promila Issar and retired police officer P.V. Rathee.

While this set of bureaucrats have benefited from the Hooda government, this has surely been at the cost of others who have remained sidelined for the last over eight years. This set of bureaucrats includes the likes of the controversial Ashok Khemka, who has faced repeated transfers and obscure postings.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)


Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.