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Updated: June 1, 2013 01:50 IST

As Sonia fumed, Chief Secretary ‘saved the day’

Suvojit Bagchi
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Chhattisgarh Chief Secretary Sunil Kumar. File Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar
The Hindu
Chhattisgarh Chief Secretary Sunil Kumar. File Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar

At a meeting with Chief Minister, Sonia blasted government for negligence; but Sunil Kumar offered to resign owing responsibility

As the Chhattisgarh government faced a severe crisis with allegations pouring in that inadequate security resulted in the death of 24 people in the Maoist attack on the convoy of Congress leaders in Bastar on May 25, Chief Secretary Sunil Kumar saved the day for Chief Minister Raman Singh at a meeting with top Congress leaders the next day.

The meeting, convened at Governor Shekhar Dutta’s house here, was attended by senior Congress leaders and top officials of the Central and State governments, including Director-General of Police Ram Nivas. Education Minister Brijmohan Agrawal, number two in the State Cabinet, was also present.

After visiting the party office in central Raipur, Congress president Sonia Gandhi drove down to the Governor’s house to meet the Chief Minister. She was accompanied by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Minister of State for Home Affairs R.P.N. Singh.

Senior officials of both the State and the Centre told The Hindu that Ms. Gandhi blasted the government for not providing the Congress leaders with adequate security when they visited Sukma. When she enquired about the size of the police contingent assigned for security, she was told that 600-700 personnel were deployed for route sanitisation. “You are lying,” shouted Ms. Gandhi, who went to say that she was told by Congress workers that “no force was present,” charging the State government with negligence and asking it to fix responsibility. “You can tell me, as no one other than senior officials is present in this room,” she said sternly, the officials said.

Senior officials of the Union government said they had never seen the Congress president so angry. “She was fuming,” an official said.

As officials of the State government and even the politicians fell silent, Mr. Kumar said that being head of the administration, he was responsible for any failure in security. “I am the head of administration, and hence it is my responsibility. I have a few months left [to retire]; I am ready to resign,” a senior officer present at the meeting quoted him as having said.

After Mr. Kumar intervened, the heat came down, and Mr. Singh took over, explaining the steps that he planned. Dr. Singh also extended his support [to the measures], said an official. “CS [the Chief Secretary] was fantastic. He really stood for us, like a true leader, and we are grateful [to him],” said one of his junior colleagues.

However, Mr. Kumar is not quite happy that some of his colleagues spoke to the media. “Look, meetings with high-profile dignitaries in the background of a tragedy would not have been closed door, if participants were free to talk about it,” he told The Hindu.

An IAS officer of the 1979 batch, Mr. Kumar was chosen for the post almost a year ago. Sources say Mr. Raman Singh is fond of Mr. Kumar, despite his overt liking for the left-wing ideology. In fact, the Chief Minister bypassed several senior officers while choosing him for the top post.

Mr. Kumar is one of the most respected officers of Chhattisgarh. “He is almost equally respected by the hardcore police officers, politicians with corruption charges, his colleagues and Left liberals in the State and across central India for his integrity and professionalism,” said an IPS officer in Delhi. “Perhaps, Mr. Kumar’s reputation helped us when things were about to go haywire,” said one of colleagues in the State.

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Sonia Gandhi and her party is angry because Congress politicians were amongst the dead and injured. Where was the anger when so many innocent people as well as security personnel were killed over the years by the Maoists as well as by terrorists sent from Pakistan? The Home Minister was spending time in the US even after the attack. After the attack on the Congress leaders, it is now reported that a senior security officer was killed. Has anyone from her party offered condolences to the families of the dead security personnel?

from:  krishna
Posted on: Jun 2, 2013 at 01:45 IST

The comments offered by intellectual readers are more pertinent and interesting than the report itself which is the beauty of this great country of 1.25 billion. Congress party cannot go the way it is leading the nation all these decades. People are slowly aware of their rights and start demanding, hence Aadhaar! Hence time to change for better or quit.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Jun 1, 2013 at 14:24 IST

where was this anger when a range of scam happened ? Mumbai attack
happened ?

from:  hrishikesh
Posted on: Jun 1, 2013 at 09:09 IST

What was Sonia Gandhi's and Rahul Gandhi's locus standi for attending a
government meeting where state secrets are discussed?

from:  IV Sen
Posted on: Jun 1, 2013 at 07:13 IST

Whereas Chief Secretary Mr. Sunil Kumar took the heat, it does not address the systematic rot of incompetence and apathy. Resignation by Mr. Kumar is simply a sacrifice, not a solution since he is not the main doer. It was the job of the security apparatus on both sides. Both failed. Why did the security incharge of Congress allow his Congress delegation to move without the deployment of 600-700 personnel as promised? One really really to get to the bottom of the non commmunication and thorough incompetence.

from:  Dr. Ajay
Posted on: Jun 1, 2013 at 05:08 IST

The take away from this article is the integrity of Mr. Sunil Kumar and the mafia raj of Congress.
Has Sonia ever fumed over the suicidal deaths of thousands of farmers? Or are the Congress leaders' death only worth fuming. And second, who in her administration has offered to resign over the ocean of scandals her flotilla is riding upon.

from:  Anamendra Bharati
Posted on: Jun 1, 2013 at 04:53 IST

Hats off to the senior administrator who held himself responsible for the security failure and the loss of many people in the Naxal killings in chattisgarh .However if men with such integrity,leadership-and absolute honesty become the sacrificial goats we would be left with only the other kind. Hope every one learns the lessons from this human tragedy and find away to alleviate the chronic problems of the tribals and arrest the Naxal menace

from:  K.V.Pant
Posted on: Jun 1, 2013 at 03:53 IST

I salute Chief Secretary Sunil Kumar for his courage. He has done the entire civil service proud. At a time when the rank and file of IAS officers across the country are feeling let down by falling standards amongst the seniors in the Service he has shown what courage and integrity mean in the context of true leadership. Honesty and integrity are flowers with out fragrance if they do not manifest themselves as courage both in every day administration and when crises arise. This is a model worth following for all other IAS officers and senior political leaders as well, including at the national level.
K.R. Venugopal IAS (RETD),Former Secretary to the Prime Minister, Hyderabad.

from:  K.R.Venugopal.
Posted on: Jun 1, 2013 at 00:20 IST
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