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HomePoliticsKalyan Singh – a politician bureaucrats loved to work with # 3

Kalyan Singh – a politician bureaucrats loved to work with # 3

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Despite difficult circumstances, I thoroughly enjoyed my stint at various assignments with the Uttar Pradesh Government during the mid-1990s. Hence, I had no intention of serving in the Central Government, a move that many officers coveted. However, one fine morning in 1997, I got a call from Nripendra Mishra, with whom I had worked in the State but who was serving then in the Government of India (GoI) as Additional Secretary, the Ministry of Commerce. He asked me a simple question: “Why haven’t you sent your name to serve in the Central Government?” (As is the protocol, an IAS officer has to volunteer for serving in GoI). My simple answer was, “I have no intention.”

However, knowing him previously, I knew that he would not accept my “no intention” as an answer. He was a well-wisher who knew what I was missing by not serving in GoI. Without explaining, he directed me to send my application at the earliest. I knew that when he said the earliest, he meant it! As I held him in high esteem, I got cracking and wrote the application for Central deputation. And then I promptly forgot all about it.

Meanwhile, Kalyan Singh had taken over as the Chief Minister (CM) of Uttar Pradesh in 1997 as a part of a deal struck between Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). I had earlier worked as Director, Information and Public Relations, when Kalyan Singh’s  first stint as Chief Minister had been prematurely terminated due to the Babri Masjid demolition. When he became the CM for the second time, he expected me to call on him, but I did not, on account of my convictions.

Within a few days of taking over as Chief Minister, he called and asked me to meet him. When I did, he revealed that he wanted me as Secretary to the Chief Minister. I had enjoyed working with him earlier, and I considered it a privilege to assist him wade through a crisis-ridden state. So, I agreed.

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Consequent to taking over as the Secretary to the CM, I got down to work in right earnest. However, within a month, I received a missive that the Central Government had retained my name. I was posted as Export Commissioner in the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, a coveted assignment. I was in a dilemma whether to tell Kalyan Singh or not. Having known him for a while, I had an inkling that if he came to know about it, he would ask me to go irrespective of his wish to retain me to assist him. Hence, I chose not to desert Kalyan Singh and not reveal this development to him.

Unfortunately, the Chief Secretary conveyed it to him in a casual conversation. He asked me why I had not told him about it. I candidly informed him that as he had recently taken over as CM and I wanted to assist him in resolving a few emergent issues, I had chosen to stay back. He heard me out, but it did not take him long to make up his mind. He responded with complete clarity that I should not sacrifice this opportunity. He directed me to go ahead and take over as Export Commissioner. My explanations fell on deaf ears as he did not relent.

Also Read: Kalyan Singh – a politician bureaucrats loved to work with # 2

In a couple of days, I joined my assignment in Delhi. I had not personally bid adieu to Kalyan Singh. So, I visited him during my next trip to Lucknow. He was about to leave for Delhi and asked me to accompany him on the State aircraft. I was a trifle surprised at the suggestion as I was not working with him officially anymore. I had come to call on him in my personal capacity. However, I could not turn down his request, which was an instruction, and accompanied him to Delhi.

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On the flight, he explained to me why he was going to Delhi. At that time, his government was surviving with Mayawati’s support. He was going to Delhi to convince the ‘High Command’ about his intention and plans. He was confident that he would be able to hold his own.  He also had some plans for the State’s socio-economic development, some of which I was aware of. However, he explained them to me in greater detail.

On arrival at Delhi late in the night, as we reached the State Guest House, he asked me to prepare brief notes for him to use for the discussions with the ‘High Command’. I had prepared brief notes for him in the past. Hence, I had some idea about what he wanted. I worked overnight to develop the ideas that he had suggested and prepared a few handwritten notes.These brief notes were handed over to him early in the morning. I returned to my room after that to catch up on my sleep. I slept well.

A knock on the door woke me up. The messenger informed me that Kalyan Singh was calling me. I found an effusive and upbeat Kalyan Singh as I entered the room. He had managed to convince the ‘High Command’ that he could run the government without Mayawati’s support. I was happy for him. Though I was not now working withhim, I felt deep pleasure for a man who had the potential to transform the State.

We then entered into a fascinating conversation as Kalyan Singh reminisced about my time with him. He confessed that he felt a bit awkward initially with my blunt and forthright comments but what cemented our association was an incident regarding my intervention relating election rallies (narrated earlier) that Kalyan Singh narrated , an incident that I had forgotten, but which illustrated why he retained me as wanted critics to be around him

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Then I recited a poem I had composed with him in mind:

Samay ruka nahin, hum kyon theher gaye?

Abhi toh hum chale hi nahin, phir kyun thak gaye?

Utho Pathik, mat bhramit ho, dhoomil andhiyaare mein –

Shreshtha wahi jo ghira nahin ho kshanik nirasha mein –

Jago! Jago! Man mat behlao!

Ek Maseeha tum bhi ban jao!

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Anil Swarup IAS (Retd)
Anil Swarup IAS (Retd)
Anil Swarup is a former 1981 batch, Uttar Pradesh cadre  IAS officer, and was awarded Director's gold medal for "best officer trainee" at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA). He served the Government of India in various capacities for 38 years and went on to become Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy and the Coal Secretary of India. He also served as Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Additional Secretary, Labour & Empowerment, Export Commissioner in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry of India and as the District Magistrate of Lakhimpur Kheri. He couldn’t make it to the “elite” Indian Administrative Service (IAS) on his first attempt but qualified for the Indian Police Service where he worked for one year before clearing IAS in his next attempt. He is today an author of several looks like 'No More a Civil Servant,' ‘Ethical dilemmas of a civil servant’ and ‘Not just a civilservant’. The views expressed are his own.


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