Himachal confidential: Ik Bangla bane Nyara

As she retired on Saturday,former chief secretary Rajwant Sandhu quit without fulfilling a long cherished dream — to live in a new ‘CS’ bungalow.

Written by Express News Service | Published:April 2, 2012 3:16 am

As she retired on Saturday,former chief secretary Rajwant Sandhu quit without fulfilling a long cherished dream — to live in a new ‘CS’ bungalow. During her tenure as the state’s top bureaucrat,Sandhu had a near century-old building razed to the ground as she had wanted it rebuilt as the ‘Chief Secretary’s’ residence. The new building,which was to have several features like solar passive-heating,rain-water harvesting,space for parking and a camp office,quickly received the approval of the Town and Country Planning (TCP) department. The chief architect’s office then stepped in and work progressed at a break-neck speed to complete the building on time. Despite Sandhu’s tough talking,however,she could not make it to the new home before March 31 — her retirement date.

Shanta’s Jaypee mess

The senior BJP leader’s dream project — a PGI-level super-speciality hospital at his home town of Palampur,is moving at a snail’s pace. The Vivekanand Trust headed by Shanta Kumar had handed over the project to leading private company Jaypee at the behest of Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. Four years have passed but the company has been sleeping over the project. An annoyed Shanta Kumar blamed Dhumal for “causing havoc” with his dream project and took up the issue with national BJP president Nitin Gadkari. Jaypee finally seems to have woken up and held a Trust meeting at Shanta’s residence last month. The question really is what’s on Jaypee’s priorities these days —Dhumal’s return to power,or business as usual under any regime?

Return of the raja?

Even as it’s not clear if the party High Command wants Union Minister Virbhadra Singh to lead the Congress in the Himachal polls this year,a powerful section of the party — the Vidya Stokes and Kaul Singh Thakur combine which draws strength from another Union Minister Anand Sharma — is vehemently opposed to ‘Raja sahib’ positioning himself as the chief ministerial candidate but wants the party to ensure he works for the Congress during the Himachal Pradesh polls. Virbhadra on the other hand,has shown signs that whatever the outcome,he isn’t going to sit back quietly. His loyalists want the party to placate him and say it should have learnt from the crisis in Uttarakhand — where incidentally Singh was sent to placate rebel Harish Rawat.

The appointment of Harinder Hira as the state’s new chief secretary,though only for a month,is being seen in bureaucratic circles as a “cooling off period for babus with bleeding wounds”. Her predecessor Rajwant Sandhu,known for her no-nonsense approach,had left several officers red-faced. A banner put up by the secretariat employees’ union at the secretariat gate on Sandhu’s retirement probably seemed to have captured what her juniors thought of her retirement. “Thanks for relinquishing as the Chief Secretary,Ma’am”,reads the banner. During Sandhu’s tenure,a brilliant officer Manisha Shridhar quit while a few others got their deputations to the GoI. Says a senior officer: “No matter what but in the next one month Hira will try to heal the bleeding wounds of a few fellow officers and her own to.”

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