Hours after former home secretary R K Singh levelled a series of charges against Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said Singh had lobbied with the UPA for a post-retirement job, and had sent “feelers” to him.
R K Singh, who retired in June 2013, joined the BJP last month, saying he shared the party’s “hardline orientation on national security issues”. His accusations against Shinde, made over Monday and Tuesday, included the charge that the minister had misled the country about the US helping to bring back Dawood Ibrahim, and that his office had interfered in transfers and postings of Delhi Police officers.
On Tuesday evening, Digvijaya Singh told The Indian Express: “He (R K Singh) didn’t meet me, but there were feelers coming through that he is angling for some post-retirement post in Delhi.” Digvijaya Singh did not say which post R K Singh was allegedly eyeing, but other sources in the Congress claimed he had wanted to be Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.
Digvijaya Singh said these days, “bureaucrats after retiring suddenly develop political ambitions”. A cooling-off period for them “could be considered”, he said.
Ironically, it was Shinde who had backed the then home secretary in the face of loud demands for his sacking in the aftermath of the December 16, 2012 Delhi bus gangrape.
At a meeting of senior Congress ministers in Parliament, it was suggested that R K Singh be removed, but Shinde had let the officer, who was six months from retirement at the time, continue. The minister only registered a formal complaint with the cabinet secretary, asking him to pull up R K Singh.
Singh was the only home secretary in recent years who was not considered for a post-retirement assignment by the government. All his predecessors — G K Pillai, Madhukar Gupta, V K Duggal — still continue to be offered jobs. Shinde had announced the name of Singh’s successor — Anil Goswami — two months in advance.
At the fag end of his tenure, Singh had attempted to mend fences with the home minister, naming terror accused with alleged links to the RSS. This came after Shinde, speaking at the Jaipur plenary of the Congress, accused the BJP and RSS of running terror camps.
Singh, a Bihar cadre IAS officer, shot to fame when, as district magistrate, he arrested L K Advani in Samastipur during the 1990 Rath Yatra. A couple of years earlier, Singh had received accolades for overthrowing the mafia as managing director of the Bihar State Cooperative Marketing Union (Biscomaun).
Singh worked at the union home ministry during the NDA government from 1999-2004. He served in Bihar for the next five years, before being picked by Defence Minister A K Antony to head the department of defence production in 2009. He became union home secretary after G K Pillai retired in 2011.
After Shinde took over as home minister in August 2012, Singh sometimes took decisions without consulting him. Earlier that year, Singh had triggered a controversy after reportedly telling state bureaucrats called to discuss the NCTC not to be “stenographers” of politicians.
On Tuesday, Digvijaya Singh tweeted, “Shocked at the Opportunistic behaviour of RK Singh ex HS [home secretary]. Why did he not bring this [Shinde’s alleged interference in the work of the Delhi Police] to the notice of Cabinet Secretary or the PM?
“Is it not a fact that he tried to get a post retirement position from UPA? Is it not a fact that he approached Nitish (Kumar) for a position?
“His charges are extremely serious and and if he kept quiet then he is guilty also of not fulfilling his assigned responsibility. Shocking!”
Shinde, Digvijaya tweeted, was a politician who had held several responsible positions, and “such false charges by an ex HS are condemnable”.
I&B Minister Manish Tewari described as “extremely unfortunate” the “very pernicious tendency of bureaucrats after retirement trying to make allegations in order to occupy media space”. To “shoot from the hips” after joining a political party was “really low”, Tewari said.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, on the other hand, said, “After inquiry if he (Shinde) is found to have intervened as there is contemporaneous evidence of home secretary saying so, he must be sacked. He has no political, moral or legal authority to remain as the home minister even for a moment.”