Congress stages walkout in Himachal Assembly on move to change chief secretary

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 5

The Congress on Thursday staged a walkout in the Vidhan Sabha over the move to change Chief Secretary Anil Khachi, even as Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur accused opposition of adopting a parochial view.

Congress Legislature party (CLP) leader Mukesh Agnihotri raised the issue through a point of order after the Question Hour in the Assembly. "There are reports that the Chief Secretary is being changed. We want to know what the compelling circumstances which force you to do so, when the Assembly is in session," Agnihotri said.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Anil Khachi, a 1986 batch IAS officer, was on Thursday appointed State Election Commissioner. The post had been lying vacant since the term of P Mitra got over on May 31. With his appointment, it is almost a foregone conclusion that Ram Subhag Singh, a 1987 IAS officer, currently serving as Additional Chief Secretary, Industry and Transport, will succeed Khachi. He is the seniormost IAS officer in the state after Khachi.

There were heated exchanges between the treasury and opposition benches over the issue. Congress legislators resorted to sloganeering and accused the government of meting out injustice to a Himachali officer. "There were reports of heated exchanges between a minister and the Chief Secretary and now he has been removed, while the session is on," said Agnihotri.

"We do not humiliate officers and supersede officers like you did. We have discussed the issue and he is being given a more important constitutional post, which is on par with a High Court judge," said Thakur. He told the Congress not to make an officer a politician, and let him remain an officer.

The CM also took strong exception to the Congress adopting a parochial view by discriminating between an outsider and Himachali officer. "At least we did not supersede seven officers to appoint a Chief Secretary of your choice, like you did," he said. He said it is the prerogative of the government to appoint an officer against a post.

Speaker Vipin Parmar said it was not an issue which fell within the purview of the Vidhan Sabha. "It is not right to cast aspersions on the chair of the Speaker as I allowed you a point of order," said Parmar. He advised the opposition to leave the decision of appointment of the Chief Secretary to the government.

Finally, the Congress MLAs staged a walkout.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service
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