A FRIENDLY person and a meticulous professional. That’s how bureaucrats and IAS batchmates in Gujarat describe Achal Kumar Joti, who will take over from Nasim Zaidi, his junior in the IAS, as the next Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) on Thursday. Appointed an election commissioner in May 2015, Joti will serve as CEC for six months, as he turns 65 in January 2018. With Zaidi’s retirement, one post of election commissioner will fall vacant.
The 1975-batch IAS officer of Gujarat cadre spent a significant part of his career in the state, and officers here fondly remember him for his contributions to e-governance projects. When Joti was principal secretary (finance), e-procurement was introduced in Gujarat in December 2006. Despite resistance from some departments, all tenders and procurement of goods and services with a value of more than Rs 10 lakh was undertaken through e-procurement.
He also oversaw other e-governance projects such as SWAGAT (State Wide Attention on Grievances by Application of Technology), a pet project of then chief minister Narendra Modi, IFMS (Integrated Financial Management System), ATVT (Apno Taluko Vibrant Taluko), and Jan Seva Kendra, among others.
“He has always been a balanced person —- he weighs the pros and cons before taking a decision. He will patiently hear everyone, and will try and arrive at a consensus…qualities that will benefit him as the CEC,” said Varun Maira, his batchmate and chairman of Uttar Gujarat Vij Company Ltd.
Joti was the Gujarat chief secretary from 2010 to 2013, when Modi was the chief minister. Maira recalled that during his tenure in Gujarat, whenever senior officers came to the state, “he would take pains to invite batchmates of the visiting official for a working lunch, or an informal gathering or dinner”.
A junior IAS officer of Gujarat cadre recalled an instance when Joti held a review meeting with taluka officials in Panchmahal district from 9 am to 9 pm. “He had this habit of going into great detail…a friendly person, very thorough in his work.”
(With ENS Delhi)