Chennai: News of popular IAS officer U Sagayam putting in his papers did not come as a surprise to those close to him for he had been unhappy with the way the government was treating him for some years now but the nagging question that no one is able to answer is: Is he, too, headed to politics like some others from the IAS and IPS in recent times?
Though journalists who had closely interacted with him when he was the Collector of Madurai, the time when he was all over the media for spending a night inside a crematorium, say that he had displayed signs of political aspirations in the past, some of his friends rule that out now.
So the question arises as to why should Sagayam, who has three more years to go in service, opt for VRS now? A valid reason could be that he has been dumped in an insignificant post as vice chairman of Science City for the past six years after developing misunderstandings with politicians.
Also it was a known fact that the State government had been a stumbling block to his attending overseas events held by Tamil organizations abroad, besides being totally neglected in assigning administrative and other tasks to officers.
But then for an officer, who during his days as Collector in Namakkal and Madurai districts, had openly stated that being transferred out of a job in less than a year was common to him and that his children had not completed even one year of study in a school, should this stagnation, which also meant loss of monetary benefits, as some close to him claim, come as a last straw?
As Sagayam himself has mentioned in his resignation, he was not even allowed to do regular service to society. So he chose October 2, Gandhi Jayanthi, to submit his resignation and when there was no response from the government, he sent in a reminder after 15 days. He wants the government to relieve him from his duties by November 30 or earlier.
Already Sagayam is involved in coaching students appearing for the Civil Services examination and spends his time guiding young people. When he was in Madurai, there was even a legion of youth, swearing by his name, campaigning against corruption. There had been occasions when the youth organizations had given open calls to the IAS officer to join politics.
Corruption, of course, had been an anathema for the eloquent Sagayam, which he had repeatedly expressed through his speeches. He was a regular in college functions, where he invariably displayed his love for Tamil, besides motivating students who were weak in English.
He wore his humble background from a middle class home, studying in Tamil medium, in his sleeves and delivered inspiring speeches, drawing applause. He was also a man of action. While in Namakkal he ordered that village administrative officers should live in the villages they worked in and earned the wrath of many, resulting in his transfer.
Then in Madurai, he worked hard to ensure that a ‘Thirumangalam Formula’ was not repeated in the 2011 elections and cracked down on those who were roaming around with hard cash. Later on, he took on the granite mafia that had denuded hills in the region. An inside story is that the granite quarry owner tried to bribe him at his camp office, earning his wrath
It was in that skirmish he stayed back inside a crematorium for the night, lest some evidence would be removed from there in the dark. That brought him under the media limelight and endeared himself to the younger generation as a crusader against corruption, besides wowing Tamil society as an upright officer.
Now, will he carry forward his crusade in the political sphere with the help of the youth brigade that swears by him? Will he join a political party and fight the coming election? Or will some political party back him from outside and use him to fight bigger parties in the electoral fray? Perhaps it is too early for even Sagayam to answer these questions....