The summary removal of Vijay Kumar Dev as UT Adviser and his transfer to Delhi has come as a rude shock to the large following he had managed to build up in Chandigarh during his brief tenure of just over a year. He was popular with Chandigarh folks, and was seen everywhere, showing up at virtually every event to which he was invited. Unlike his predecessor KK Sharma, who mostly avoided the media spotlight, Dev seemed to revel in it, doing everything from dancing the salsa to dishing out langar.
According to sources, a delegation of BJP leadership had lodged a complaint with the union home minister against Dev. They had alleged that he was not co-operative. Local Member of Parliament (MP) Kirron Kher had expressed her displeasure over the “lax attitude of officials” who were “not replying to the grievance letters and queries” sent by her or her office on issues faced by city residents that Kher had personally taken up.
In the last few months, the elected representatives have been at loggerheads with the administration claiming that they are being sidelined by the administration. The councillors, on a number of occasions, expressed their displeasure over the decision of the administration to impose house tax as well as proposals to increase parking fees and water tariff. They have accused the administration of bypassing them on discussions related to the smart city project.
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According to sources, Dev was also not getting along well with UT administrator Prof Kaptan Singh Solanki. Breaking from tradition, Prof Solanki delivered Republic Day address. Traditionally, UT adviser deliver speech on Republic Day, while Administrator on Independence Day. They both were avoiding each other on official functions.
There was an outpouring of support for him on Twitter, and city lawyer Utsav Singh Bains, general secretary of the Chandigarh Human Rights Organisation, even said he would go and meet the Home Minister in a delegation of eminent citizens demanding that his transfer be stopped in the interests of Chandigarh.
“He is the first Adviser in recent times who has done remarkable work for the downtrodden. He has become a victim of jealousy of lazy local politicians,” said Bains.
Unlike his predecessor KK Sharma, who mostly avoided media glare, Dev in his 14-month stint remained in news. His first brush with controversy was when he got embroiled in controversy related to renovation of his official accommodation in Sector 7. Around Rs 1 crore was spent on renovation of his house which evoked criticism from the general public.
Dev also shifted his office in the Secretariat and occupied the room that was earlier earmarked for the UT Administrator. It was only when the Administrator visited the Secretariat that the room was opened. Dev got several changes done there and was functioning from there. A few days after he joined office, Dev demanded an extra pilot gypsy on the grounds that he has increased threat perception. Following this, more security and an extra pilot gypsy was provided to him.
Modi’s first visit to Chandigarh as Prime Minister to city in September last year turned out to be a fiasco, with schools shut down, people asked to remain indoors, and even the crematorium inaccessible. Congress leaders were detained the previous night. Modi publicly apologised to Chandigarh residents, over Twitter, and ordered a probe. The administration’s explanations, in a three-page report it sent off to the Centre, did not cut much ice with a furious Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which slammed the administration for the disaster.
Taking lessons from PM’s visit, French President President François Hollande off well.
Smart City: Missing the bus
Dashing the hopes of residents, Chandigarh failed to make it to the list of first 20 cities to be developed as Smart Cities under the smart cities mission. This was one of the major projects started under his leadership. The administration was accused for not involving general public in developing the proposal.