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Anup Chandra Pandey | A bureaucrat for all seasons

When the news of Anup Chandra Pandey’s appointment as Election Commissioner came on Tuesday night, it surprised many because the buzz in Delhi’s power corridors was about a few other names who retired from the Government of India at the secretary level. However, the government picked the retired Chief Secretary of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh for the coveted position.

A former IAS officer of the 1984 batch, the 62-year-old Mr. Pandey joins the three-member Commission as its third member. Former Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman Sushil Chandra, who is the Chief Election Commissioner, and former Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar are the other two members.

Mr. Pandey retired after an extended tenure as the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh. He became Chief Secretary in June 2018 and retired in August 2019, after a six-month extension. As the Election Commissioner, his first major task would be to conduct the Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, where Yogi Adityanath will seek re-election.

However, a cursory glance at Mr. Pandey’s career suggests that he has been a man for all seasons and has enjoyed crucial postings during all governments. “He served at important positions in all governments in the State and his tenures have remained mostly non-controversial,” a political insider in Lucknow said. Apart from his wide experience in industries, finance, health, education and development administration, Mr. Pandey is known for his networking in the industrial sector, strategic planning and crisis management, as per the observer.

In his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Pandey describes himself as a “career bureaucrat” with more than three-and-a-half decade experience in the administration at the State as well as in the Union level in various positions. “Strong skill-set to handle complex administrative problems,” he writes in his bio, referring to his strengths.

Mega events

Further, he credits himself for successfully piloting schemes and holding mega events such as the farm loan waiver, investors’ summit in 2018 in Lucknow, Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj and Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s Lok Sabha constituency, in 2019.

‘Able official’

In August, 2019, when he retired as the Chief Secretary, Chief Minister Adityanath showered him with accolades calling him an “able and proficient official” who carried out the tasks given to him efficiently. In almost all major policy initiatives of the U.P. government or politically important schemes such as farm loan waiver, Mr. Pandey’s imprints could be seen. The political bosses in Delhi, who are very choosy about appointing officials in high-profile positions, apparently saw several plus points in him besides his seeming closeness with the government in Lucknow. Interestingly, under the NDA government, he is another ex-Chief Secretary to be appointed in the poll body. Earlier, former Gujarat Chief Secretary A.K. Joti was made the Election Commissioner.

Another factor that also swung in his favour is his amiable nature to work with colleagues as well as subordinates which could help him create a sense of balance in the three-member body, which recently saw the two incumbents sparring over the holding and handling of the Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Puducherry in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Election Commissioner, Mr. Pandey will see crucial Assembly polls starting with Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur in early next year and then Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in the last month of 2022. Subsequently, in 2023, there will be Assembly polls in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. He will demit office in February 2024, just before the next Lok Sabha polls. As per the age criterion guiding the Election Commissioners, the retirement age has been fixed at 65 years.

With his appointment, all the three members of the poll body have a common thread — U.P. Chief Election Commissioner Chandra is a former Indian Revenue Service officer from U.P. and so is Rajiv Kumar, a former Jharkhand cadre official. Mr. Pandey was born in Punjab but was allotted the U.P. cadre after he passed the civil services exam.


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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 10:16:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/anup-chandra-pandey-a-bureaucrat-for-all-seasons/article34799681.ece

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