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UPA officers told to sit out

New Delhi, June 16: The new government is keeping away from ministers several officers who served in the staff of UPA ministers.

Over 40 officers from the IAS, IPS and the allied services, who served as private secretaries (PS) or officers on special duty (OSD) to ministers in the previous regime, will be transferred.

One of the first changes took place today at North Block, where the Union home ministry is located, apparently after an objection was raised.

Alok Kumar Singh, an IPS officer who was earlier secretary to former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, had been appointed as private secretary to Rajnath Singh, the new home minister.

The appointment apparently drew an objection from the PMO, following which the officer may either return to his parent cadre or to a previous deputation he had chosen. Singh is understood to have been ready to join Air India before being selected by the Union home minister.

On June 10, a list issued by the department of personnel and training, which reports to the PMO, had dropped a loud hint while referring to 14 IAS and four IPS officers.

“Consequent upon the demission of office by the previous government, the following officers who were PS/OSD to the ministers in the previous government… are hereby placed on ‘compulsory wait’.”

Unlike political appointees, cadre officers are usually not barred from serving in the staff of ministers of a new government. The government of the day always cherry-picks top secretaries but does not bother too much about officials attached to ministers.

Some officials felt that the policy may have been prompted by the government’s eagerness to prevent the leak of sensitive information. Key figures in Opposition, who were earlier ministers, would have found it easy to squeeze information out of officials they had once acquainted themselves with, they added.

Some officials have not opted to join ministers in the NDA government while others have been in touch with the new incumbents. Nilkanth Avhad, the PS to former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, is known to have gone on leave.

Junior home minister Kiren Rijiju apparently has no problems with Abhinav Kumar, an IPS officer. But Abhinav was also on the staff of former UPA minister Shashi Tharoor. Abhinav’s continuation in Rijiju’s team has now turned uncertain.

Vinita Shrivastava, an allied services officer who was attached to the office of former steel minister Beni Prasad Verma, has joined HRD minister Smriti Irani as officer on special duty. Shrivastava is expected to get another posting.