UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav virtually shocked the state bureaucracy as he sacked senior IAS officer Deepak Singhal from the rather prominent post of principal secretary (home) which he had been assigned just two weeks ago. The CM's axe has fallen on the top officer not because of the outcry over the failing law and order in UP but reportedly due to the increasing proximity Singhal was developing with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Singhal has been replaced by Rakesh Bahadur, a tainted officer named as accused in the Noida plot allotment scam, related to SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's last tenure as CM (2003-2007). Bahadur is the fifth home secretary in the little over two-year tenure of the Akhilesh regime.
Sources here reveal that Singhal had met Rajnath twice over the past one week, once in Lucknow and then in Delhi. Singhal had also taken UP Police chief AL Bannerji along when he went to meet Rajnath in Delhi. However, he met Rajnath alone and was closeted with the BJP president for more than half an hour while Bannerji was made to wait outside.
The sources say a rather upset UP DGP related the entire story to the CM after which Akhilesh promptly decided to drop Singhal from the crucial post. "Singhal was never the CM's choice for the office of Home Secretary," a top bureaucrat confided. "He was thrust upon Akhilesh by Mulayam on the advice of Shivpal, (Mulayam's younger brother and Irrigation Minister)," he added.
Singhal was principal secretary in Shivpal's department and is reported to be quite close to him. Interestingly, Singhal continued to hold charge of irrigation even after taking over as Home Secretary. He has now been reverted to the irrigation department.
The UP CM's knee-jerk reaction in shunting out the top officer is seen here as just another example of the power struggle going on within the ruling Yadav family. "Rakesh Bahadur is again Mulayam Singh's personal choice," a senior officer quipped, illustrating how Akhilesh has failed to get any grip on the state administration due to a doting father who is otherwise spoiling his entire plot with insistent interference in day to day government functioning.
If a casual interaction with a couple of senior officers over the matter is any indication, Singhal's abrupt sacking has also sent out a feeling of insecurity in the state bureaucracy. "No one would want to take up this once-coveted post (of home secretary) now," said a senior officer, amplifying the sentiment.