In just about three days after the change of guard in Punjab, the party has been bringing major administrative changes in the government which has been facing the allegations of being run by the state’s bureaucracy.
After Charanjit Singh Channi took over the state’s reins on Monday, the Government has not only changed the state’s Chief Secretary by appointing 1990-batch IAS officer Anirudh Tiwari in place of Vini Mahajan, but also several senior bureaucrats, top police officials, along with removing the Chief Minister’s team of OSDs (officer on special duty).
The state Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta is also expected to be replaced anytime now. Another DGP-level officer Siddharth Chattopadhyaya is among the frontrunners for the post along with VK Bhawra and Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota.
Besides, the Government will also be replacing the state’s Vigilance Bureau chief BK Uppal, who is considered close to Capt Amarinder’s aide Bharat Inder Singh Chahal. For the post, the name of Additional DGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu, who is currently heading the Special Task Force against drugs, is being considered.
Besides, the appointment of a new Advocate-General is also on the cards. It has been learnt that the name of senior advocate DS Patwalia has been approved for the coveted post, which was earlier held by Capt Amarinder’s confidant Atul Nanda. Notably, Nanda resigned as the state’s top law officer soon after Capt Amarinder.
In the ongoing major reshuffles in the civil administration, Chief Minister Channi has appointed 1995-batch IAS officer Hussan Lal as his principal secretary and Rahul Tiwari as his chief principal secretary, replacing Capt Amarinder’s blue-eyed officers — Tejveer Singh and Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, respectively.
On the police administration side, the head of the three Police Commissionerates have been transferred. Naunihal Singh has been appointed Jalandhar’s Commissioner of Police, Sukhchain Singh Gill Amritsar Commissioner of Police, and Gurpreet Singh Bhullar is Ludhiana Commissioner of Police.
Only a day before, the Government had replaced a set of one loyalist, the political appointees, with another at the districts level also.
Channi, during his maiden visit to Amritsar after becoming the Chief Minister on Wednesday, had ordered to replace Capt Amarinder’s loyalist Dinesh Bassi, who did not enjoy good relations with Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu, from the post of Amritsar Improvement Trust chairman with Sidhu’s close aide, Damandeep Singh Uppal.
Besides, a close confidant of senior Congress leader Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Kasturi Lal Seth, is also back as the Batala Improvement Trust chairman few days after he was replaced with his bête noire and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa’s aide Pawan Kumar Panna. Tript Bajwa’s another close aide Rajinder Singh has again been appointed Batala Marketing Committee chairman, who was also removed and replaced with Partap Bajwa’s aide.
Nine IAS and two PCS officers were also transferred, including Capt Amarinder’s chosen-one Girish Dayalan — the only Deputy Commissioner to be transferred.
TIWARI SUPERSEDES FIVE OFFICERS
With the appointment of 1990-batch IAS officer Anirudh Tewari as Punjab’s new Chief Secretary, he has superseded his five senior officers, including the outgoing Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, who is of the 1987-batch.
All the five officers — Mahajan, Ravneet Kaur (1988 batch), Sanjay Kumar (1988), VK Janjua (1989), and Kirpa Shankar Saroj (1989) — have been made “special chief secretaries” to the Punjab Government.
Currently the Additional Chief Secretary and Financial Commissioner (Development), Tewari is considered among the brightest officers in the State.
He is considered close to former Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal as he had served him as the Principal Secretary (Finance). It is believed that Manpreet has played a major role in his appointment as the state’s administrative head.
Interestingly, Tewari has served on several key posts not only under the ruling Congress Government, but also during the previous SAD-BJP regime.