Calls for a mandatory cooling-off period for babus before joining politics have revived after two senior babus in Uttar Pradesh took voluntary retirement (VRS) and decided to join politics, with an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections in the state.
Hours after the model code of conduct was effected, Asim Arun, the recently named police commissioner of Kanpur, sprung a surprise by announcing that he had applied for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) from the IPS and that the BJP was considering fielding the 1994-batch officer as its candidate from the Kannauj Sadar constituency.
Almost at the same time, the joint director of Enforcement Directorate (ED), Rajeshwar Singh, has said that his request for VRS has been accepted. It is being hinted that Mr Singh is preparing to jump into the poll fray from the Sahibabad constituency. He joined the ED in 2009 and was absorbed into the ED cadre in 2015. During his stint at ED, he investigated several high-profile cases including the 2G spectrum allocation case, the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam, and cases against prominent politicians such as former finance minister P. Chidambaram and others.
Last year, none other than the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had directed that a cooling-off period should be mandatorily imposed on all retired government officials before they can take up other jobs in the private sector. Clearly, at the time, the CVC did not envision babus joining politics but now should, given the number of babus who are quitting the civil service to join politics, and often the ruling party which they until recently served.
PESB chairperson gets her way
The department of personnel and training (DoPT) has accepted the request of Mallika Srinivasan, the first woman chairperson of the Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB), to relieve her of some of her responsibilities as the chief public sector headhunter.
Sources have told DKB that the department has modified the rules on the functioning of the PESB to accommodate her plea. Ms Srinivasan, who runs her own Fortune 500 company, TAFE Ltd, had stated that the PESB role clashed with her other responsibilities, referring to her company.
According to the modified PESB resolution, the chairperson’s presence will be required only for the selection of a chairman, CMD, MD and functional directors of Schedule A and B CPSEs. The presence will not be mandatory for other selections.
The DoPT’s swift acquiesce to Ms Srinivasan’s demands has caused some talk in babu circles that perhaps she was planning on quitting the post if the government did not accept her terms. If so, it may have worked.
Storm over, Kerala babu is reinstated
The Kerala government has decided to reinstate bureaucrat M. Sivasankar, who was suspended for his alleged role in the high-profile gold smuggling case. An order revoking the suspension was issued by the state chief secretary V.P. Joy after chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan approved an official recommendation.
Mr Sivasankar, who was principal secretary to Mr Vijayan at the time, was suspended from service in July 2020, after investigators alleged that he was involved in the appointment of the prime accused in the gold smuggling case. It was being said that he had flouted rules in government projects. The case had rocked Kerala’s ruling party CPI(M). He will be back in service now that his suspension is revoked. Sources say that Mr Sivasankar’s suspension would have ended in July 2021 but was extended for another six months. He was in jail for 98 days and was later released on bail on February 4, 2021. Earlier too, Mr Sivasankar as IT secretary had been absolved of any wrongdoing about the data transfer of Covid patients by a government committee led by former law secretary K. Sashidharan Nair.
Clearly, after having got caught in that maelstrom of controversy and given that attempts to nail it on him haven’t quite stuck, it looks like he has got a reprieve. But will it hold? No one knows yet. His new posting has not been revealed and he has another one year left in his service....