Uproar in state Assembly over govt move to appoint Khachi as state EC
Chief Minister reacts as Singh becomes sixth Chief Secretary in four and a half years
Shimla | TNR
Close on the heels of former Chief Secretary Anil Khachi’s voluntary retirement, Ram Subhag Singh, an IAS officer of the 1986 Himachal cadre, has been appointed Chief Secretary by the Jai Ram Thakur government.
Notification issued by government
Anil Khachi’s appointment as state Election Commissioner caused a furore in the state Assembly. A notification regarding both appointments was later issued by the personnel department.
The government had earlier waived the mandatory three month routine notice period for Khachi. Ram Suhag Singh is the sixth Chief Secretary to be appointed during the four and a half year tenure of the Jai Ram Thakur government.
His predecessors were VC Farka, Vineet Choudhary, BK Agarwal, Shrikant Baldi and Anil Khachi. MLA from Theog, Rakesh Singha, strongly objected to the government’s decision to waive the mandatory three months notice for Khachi before his appointment as state EC.
Khachi issue takes centre stage in Himachal Assembly
The Khachi issue was taken up by the leader of the Opposition, Mukesh Agnihotri, after Question Hour in the Assembly.
Putting forward his viewpoint, Agnihotri stated that the government had gotten into a habit of changing chief secretaries every now and then.
This, he doubted, was probably because the government did not prefer a native of Himachal Pradesh to occupy the important position. He also stated that former chief secretary VC Farka, who belonged to Himachal, had also been removed from the post.
He said the Chief Minister’s statements made during Parmar Jayanti on nativity, indicated that the government preferred outsiders to hold this position.
He said that the government had removed Khachi as Chief Secretary on account of his confrontation with the hydel power minister some time ago.
The government’s action to change six chief secretaries in a row was therefore absolutely unjustified and uncalled for, he said.
Chief Minister’s counter attack
Replying to the Opposition leader’s accusations, the Chief Minister said that it was entirely up to the government to decide where and in what roles officials should be working.
He said there have been examples of chief ministers occupying office although they were only sixth on the seniority list and hence raking up the nativity issue was entirely unfair to these officials.
Two additional CS to handle departments held by Singh
The departments previously held by Ram Subhag Singh will now be held by two additional chief secretaries.
These include industry, transport, labour and employment departments which will be handled by additional chief secretaries RD Dheeman and JC Sharma.
While Dheeman will take care of industry, labour and employment, Sharma will be responsible for transport, MD Ropeway and Rapid Transport System Development Corporation.
Tough competition for a sought-after position
The race for the position of state Election Commissioner saw many top officials as front runners following the retirement of P Mitra.
These included several retired and serving bureaucrats. Amongst them were former chief secretary BK Agarwal, former additional chief secretary Manisha Nanda, present additional chief secretary JC Sharma and the chief minister’s principal under secretary Dr RN Batra.
Some had even attempted to influence the Centre in a bid to get appointed as the state Election Commissioner.
Khachi to hold post of state election Commissioner till August 2026
Despite controversies, Khachi will remain state Election Commissioner till August 2026. Under normal circumstances, Khachi would have retired as Chief Secretary in June 2023.