Transferred after he praised Jawaharlal Nehru in a Facebook post, IAS officer Ajay Singh Gangwar Friday said that it was the government’s “prerogative” to move him out, but it was an “ideological issue”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Gangwar, who was transferred within nine months of his first independent posting as a district collector, said, “I think it’s an ideological issue. They are promoting certain icons and I was praising someone else (Nehru). What’s wrong in teaching history to the younger generation, which is unaware of his contribution and is forming wrong perceptions about him.”
The 54-year-old was on Thursday transferred by the Madhya Pradesh government as deputy secretary in the Secretariat in Bhopal “on a temporary basis till further orders”.
Gangwar, who was till now posted as the district collector of Barwani, has also served as special assistant to former chief minister and AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh in the past.
“The talk about stopping India from becoming a Hindu Rashtra figures in constitutional assembly debates. There’s nothing new about it but people must know,” Gangwar said, defending his post, which credited Nehru with stopping India “from becoming a Hindu Talibani country” in 1947.
While he has not received a notice from the government so far, Gangwar said he is ready with an explanation.
Gangwar, who joined the state services in 1989, had also reportedly liked an article critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January this year and commented that “there should be people’s rebellion (jankranti) against Modi”. When asked about it, he disowned the comment and said that a “Facebook like” cannot be held against him.
He said it is the government’s “prerogative” to transfer him and he cannot challenge it. While Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who holds the general administration portfolio, has not commented on the issue, a minister in his cabinet, Lal Singh Arya, has criticised Gangwar for making political comments.
“It is ironic that the central government is promoting use of social media. It is not a crime to comment on certain issues. There’s no policy that one can or cannot do certain things on social media,” said the 2005-batch IAS officer who was deputy secretary in the Scheduled Caste Welfare Department in Bhopal before his first posting as collector.
Right to Food campaigner Sachin Jain, a Facebook friend of Gangwar, described him as a “sensitive and politically conscious” person who occasionally likes posts about caste and communal issues. He also recalled how, as chief executive officer of Tikamgarh district panchayat in drought-affected Bundelkhand, Gangwar was instrumental in getting water by tankers.
Barwani-based tribal activist Madhuri said Gangwar is polite, low-profile and approachable. Calling his transfer “a kind of harassment”, Madhuri said, “What’s wrong in expressing an opinion about a historical figure? Many people hold him in respect. It’s his opinion. Just because his line of thinking is different from the RSS, that can’t become grounds for action against him.”