In a move dubbed by the Opposition as politically motivated ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, 11 Union ministers on Wednesday interacted with 2014-batch IAS probationers of UP cadre as well as probationers who belong to the state.
Around 35 IAS officers — all posted in various ministries and departments at the Centre as assistant secretaries — participated in the interactive session.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi were among the senior ministers who interacted with the newly inducted officers.
According to Home Ministry officials, Singh told the officers to uphold their reputation and credibility. Asking
them to bear empathy for the last man in the queue, he said IAS officers shoulder big responsibility in districts and must win the trust of the common people without hurting their feelings.
Parrikar said that an IAS officer is the steward of administration in a district, and should show concern for the interests of the poor. He asked the officers to be sensitive to issues of soldiers and ex-servicemen, officials said.
Maneka Gandhi is learnt to have told the officers that as district magistrates, they should show compassion and kindness to solve problems of the common people.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, “If true, this is quite unprecedented. This would be the most gross politicisation of the bureaucracy…. Surely, the fact that elections are a few months away is not a nice convenient coincidence.”
Asked why only UP cadre IAS probationers and those whose domicile was UP were called for the interaction, a Home Ministry official said, “There could be such sessions for officers from other states in the future. The idea was to motivate young officers and familiarise them with ministers.”