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Did EC check its officials' track record?
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | March 16, 2007 23:47 IST
Was the Election Commission really bothered about the track record of officials hand-picked by it to replace incumbents charged of playing partisan to the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh?
The question was doing rounds in the corridors of power ever since the commission picked Shambhoo Nath as the state's new chief secretary and G L Sharma as the state police chief.
Close on the heels of replacement of state director general of police Bua Singh and nine other key officials, the commission on Friday ordered shifting of chief secretary N C Bajpai who was promptly replaced by Shambhoo Nath in the afternoon.
Due to retire at the end of this month, Nath was also promptly granted six months' extension.
For Bajpai, the shifting came as a shock, as he was understood to have moved heaven and earth to stick on to the coveted chair. However, since Bua Singh had already faced the axe for participating in a function at the ruling Samajwadi Party headquarter, it was difficult for the commission to exonerate Bajpai, who had gone a step further.
Nath, who was holding charge of UP State Road Transport Corporation chairman, had done an unusually long 5-year prized stint as principal secretary to two successive Governors. He was however, summarily removed by Governor T V Rajeshwar for his alleged involvement in certain irregularities in Raj Bhawan.
"Perhaps the commission chose to only take his seniority into account; as a 1970 batch IAS, he was the senior-most officer currently serving in the state and that possibly became the sole consideration for his selection to the top job," remarked a senior bureaucrat.Barely two years back, Nath was embroiled in a major controversy relating to large scale sanction to distance learning sources in several private institutions, in gross violation of the prevailing government rules. Taking serious exception to the decision, Governor Rajeshwar had sought his shifting.