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UP's top bureaucrat abdicates power
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow |
March 01, 2008 15:31 IST
In a significant move, Uttar Pradesh's most powerful bureaucrat Shashank Shekhar Singh relinquished his power on Saturday.
Singh not only abdicated the special rank of cabinet minister conferred on him by Chief Minister Mayawati after she assumed power in the country's most populous state , but also shed the powers of chief secretary that were transferred to him after the creation of the position of cabinet secretary.
A former Indian Army pilot, who joined the UP government as director of state civil aviation way back in 1980 , Singh made his way up through the years and eventually emerged as the most powerful bureaucrat in the current Mayawati regime.
Significantly, the announcement about relinquishing the special status and powers enjoyed by Singh was made on the floor of the state assembly by the chief minister herself.
"Objections against Singh's appointment has been raised in the House by the Leader of the Opposition , but I avoided making any statement on the issue at that time because the matter was sub judice; however since he himself voluntarily offered to relinquish the minister's rank and also give away his powers as head of the state secretariat, I have decided to make this announcement," Mayawati told the assembly Saturday noon.
"I have accepted his decision in this regard , but he will continue to function as the cabinet secretary," she later told a press conference.
Asked to comment, Singh said, "I took the decision to steer off all controversies surrounding this office."
It is widely believed that the move was undertaken essentially in the light of a pending Public Interest Litigation (PIL) before the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court wherein both these issues were raised by the petitioner.
The petition had also questioned Singh's appointment on the plea that he did not belong to the elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS) cadre.
Even some ministers close to Mayawati had raised the objections against Singh's status as a cabinet minister. Singh was technically empowered to not only call for all official files relating to any ministry but to also summon ministers.