LUCKNOW: The new Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh, Shambhu Nath, assumed charge on Friday. He immediately announced that his first priority would be to ensure maintenance of law and order and exercise stringent curbs on anti-social elements. Mr. Nath saidhe would see to it that the forthcoming Assembly elections in the State are held in a free and fair manner, and the voters areable to exercise their franchise without any fear of being intimidated.
Earlier in the day, the Election Commission had scalped the biggest wicket in the form of Naveen Chandra Bajpai, who was removed as Chief Secretary following complaints from Oppositionparties that he was acting as a "loyal worker" of the ruling Samajwadi Party. On Wednesday the EC had ordered the transfer of eight officials including the Director-General of Police, Bua Singh, Principal Secretary (Home) S.K. Agarwal and ADG (Law and Order) A.C. Sharma.
Before taking over the top bureaucratic post in Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Nath, a 1970 batch IAS officer, was Chairman of the UP State Road Transport Corporation.Incidentally, he is due to retire on March 31 and his appointment letter served by the State Appointment and Personnel Department has no mention of his tenure.
StateSecretary (Appointment) Umesh Sinha said as of now Mr. Nath had only been asked to take over as Chief Secretary and the term of his office would be fixed later by the poll panel. Mr. Sinha added that the EC was aware of his retirement date.
Mr. Nath, who had earlier served as the Principal Secretary to the Governor, told newspersons after taking charge that since the Uttar Pradesh election process had begun, one of his priority areas was to create an atmosphere conducive for polls. He said since UP is a developing state he would ensure that there was no slackness in the implementation of the ongoing schemes.
He said right now he was concentrating on his new responsibility and was not unduly perturbed about the period of his tenure.
Belonging to the 1972 batch of IAS, Mr. Bajpai became the Chief Secretary on April 3, 2006, succeeding R. Ramani. Like the eight other officials transferred on March 14, Mr. Bajpai was also handpicked by Chief Minister Mulayam Singh. He had superseded over a dozen bureaucrats of the 1972, 1971 and 1970 batches, Mr. Nath being one of them.
Complaints against Mr. Bajpai related to his presence on the dais to mark the three years of the Mulayam Singh Government on August 29, 2006. The function was held at the SP office. The former Chief Secretary was also charged with acting like a SP worker in the manner in which he reportedly sang paeans to the Chief Minister, the ruling party and even the Chief Minister's son at functions to mark the distribution of the Kanya Vidya Dhan and unemployment allowance.
Meanwhile, the new Principal Secretary (Home), K. Chandramouli, reviewed the poll preparations on Friday. Later, in his introductory meeting with the Press, Mr. Chandramouli said around 600 companies of the Central Para Military Forces would reach UP on March 26, adding that their deployment schedule would be worked out later. He said only the Central forces would be deployed in the polling centres.
The Home official said the poll preparedness on the border districts in UP and in the border states would be discussed in his meeting with Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswamy in Delhi on March 20. The Director-General of Police G.L. Sharma will also attend the meeting.