M A I N   N E W S

Lakhanpal is Punjab Chief Secretary
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 31
The Punjab Government today appointed Mr K.R. Lakhanpal as Chief Secretary, superseding eight IAS officers.

Mr Lakhanpal, who assumed charge this afternoon, will be the 33rd Chief Secretary of the state. He succeeds Mr Jai Singh Gill, who retired today on attaining the age of superannuation.

A postgraduate in economics, Mr Lakhanpal is from the 1972 batch of the IAS.

The officers who have been superseded are Mr Bikramjit Singh, Mr P.K. Verma, Mr V.N. Ojha, Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Mr A.K. Dubey, Mr B.R. Bajaj, Mrs Satwant Reddy and Mr Amitabh Pande.

This is the third time in the recent past that the Chief Secretary has been appointed by superseding senior officers. The previous SAD-BJP government headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal had appointed Mr R.S. Mann Chief Secretary, superseding 11 IAS officers. Earlier, the Beant Singh government had appointed Mr A.S.Chatha Chief Secretary superseding four IAS officers.

Till this morning, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, kept the appointment of Mr Lakhanpal secret. He did not disclose the name of the new Chief Secretary even to his trusted political confidants and officers.

Immediately after a meeting of the Council of Ministers, the outgoing Chief Secretary handed over the file regarding the appointment of his successor to the Chief Minister, who took it along to Patiala where he hosted a dinner for his guests from abroad.

The file was sent back here this morning by the Chief Minister through a special messenger with instructions that Mr Lakhanpal should be appointed Chief Secretary.

Besides Mr Lakhanpal, the other officers who were in the race for this post included Mr Verma, Mr Dubey and Mr Pande.

The Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, with whom Mr Lakhanpal has been working as Principal Secretary (Finance), is said to have played a crucial role in his appointment as Chief Secretary. Earlier, Mr Lakhanpal had also worked as Principal Secretary (Finance) in the Badal government for about four years. As he had opposed the “sangat darshan” programme of the then Chief Minister, Mr Badal, he was shifted from the post of Principal Secretary (Finance).

Talking to mediapersons after assuming charge, Mr Lakhanpal said he would try to maintain the best traditions of the office of Chief Secretary. Asked whether he would be as vocal as he had earlier been as Finance Secretary, Mr Lakhanpal said: “Now my role has changed”. He said he would carry along all officers to implement the policies and programmes of the government.

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