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Poll buzz in IAS officer exit

New Delhi, Jan. 31: Outgoing resident commissioner of Jharkhand in New Delhi Vimal Kirti Singh bade farewell to his colleagues and staff in Jharkhand Bhavan on the last day of his stint as an IAS officer today amid the buzz that he would join the BJP in a few days.

A 1986-batch IAS officer hailing from Bihar, Singh’s application for voluntary retirement scheme was accepted earlier this month. Apart from holding the post of resident commissioner, he was also the principal secretary (energy) in Jharkhand and had about 10 years of service left.

Singh, however, maintained he was quitting the IAS to “pursue his interest in law” even as sources claimed that he was set to join the BJP on February 5, following in the footsteps of former Union home secretary R.K. Singh and former petroleum secretary R.S. Pandey.

Though no senior leader from the BJP came on record to confirm it, insiders said he was likely to contest from Dhanbad.

“It is almost final that the former bureaucrat will get a party ticket from Dhanbad in place of current MP Pashupati Nath Singh,” said a senior BJP leader.

Singh, however, could not be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts.

Those in Jharkhand Bhavan said though Singh, who was hardly attached with the office in the national capital due to his other assignments in Ranchi, quit the service only now, the speculation that he was bidding adieu to bureaucracy for a career in politics had been doing rounds for months.

“During his weekend trips to Delhi, Singh met a number of senior BJP leaders on many occasions, which fuelled the speculation that he was looking to join the BJP. Earlier, there were rumours of him siding the JD(U) when he met Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar before the party’s split with the BJP. This was before the Maharajgunj bypoll. Singh wanted to fight from that constituency, but things did not materialise,” said an employee at Jharkhand Bhavan, requesting anonymity.

“Incidentally, JD(U) lost the seat to RJD. After that, he became more interested in the BJP,” the employee added.

A BJP leader said Singh had also discussed the possibility of contesting from his home district — Siwan in Bihar — but as Omprakash Yadav, who had won from this constituency as Independent is with the BJP now, that option has been ruled out.

“There were also talks on whether he could join the fray from Bokaro seat in Jharkhand where he once served as deputy commissioner,” a source said.

The former IAS officer’s peers and subordinates, on the other hand, pointed out that during his tenure as chief in the state energy department, Singh was able to leave a mark. He was regarded as a “performer and efficient officer”.

“A soft-spoken bureaucrat who believes in delivering in a steady and methodical way, Singh is known to be efficient and proactive. He has gained quite respect in the state political and official circle for restoring credibility to the state energy department, which, in the past, saw a number of senior Jharkhand State Electricity Board officers involved in a series of scams,” one of his colleagues in Jharkhand said.