Principal Secretary (Home) R.M. Srivastava was on Tuesday removed from his post. No official explanation has been given for the official’s ouster, but it is learnt that he has been transferred in the wake of the controversial Home Department letter on the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. Mr. Srivastava is the third Home Department official to be either transferred, or suspended following the controversial letter, which threatened to derail the secular agenda of the Samajwadi Party government.

Mr. Srivastava has been replaced by Member, Board of Revenue, U.P., Anil Kumar Gupta. An IAS officer of the 1979 batch, Mr. Gupta assumed charge as Principal Secretary of the Home Department within hours of his appointment. In fact, Mr. Gupta has been “rehabilitated” on the crucial post after spending about six months in the Board of Revenue (considered a punishment posting) following his transfer from the post of Principal Secretary, Infrastructure and Industrial Development.

A Home Department official confirmed that Mr. Gupta assumed charge on Tuesday.

Home Secretary Sarvesh Chandra Mishra, who wrote the letter, dated October 9, 2013, addressed to the senior police officers and Faizabad district magistrate and Section Officer, Prem Kumar Pandey were suspended on Saturday last and Sunday respectively. The letter instructed the officials to attend a meeting chaired by the Principal Secretary, Home (Mr. Srivastava) at Lucknow on October 14 in connection with the “framing of a law in Parliament on the construction of the Ram temple on the lines of the Somnath mandir.” The letter “leaked” to a section of the press caused a flutter in the government and Samajwadi Party circles.

At a press conference on Saturday, Mr. Srivastava attributed the controversy to a faux pas by a junior level Home Department personnel and tried hard to convince the media that neither was a government order issued, nor was it a policy decision (construction of the Ram temple). He maintained that the dealing clerk erred in letting out intelligence inputs about the proposed Sankalp Divas of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on October 18 at Faizabad.