Finance Secretary Resigns After Being Shifted To Power Ministry
A day after he was shifted from the high profile Ministry of Finance to the Power Ministry, senior bureaucrat Subhash Chandra Garg on Thursday applied for voluntary retirement from service, sources said.
Mr Garg, was the senior-most bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry, in charge of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), and was designated the Finance Secretary. However, in a surprise move, he was named Power Secretary in an order issued late on Wednesday.
The Power Ministry is considered to be of a lower profile than the Ministry of Finance.
As DEA Secretary, he was in charge of fiscal policy, RBI-related matters, and was closely involved in the preparation of union budget.
The shift came just a day after Parliamentary procedure for approval of Modi 2.0 government''s maiden union budget for 2019-20 was completed.
Mr Garg was replaced by Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Secretary Atanu Chakraborty in a major bureaucratic reshuffle.
Sources said Mr Garg came to his office in the North Block -- the seat of Finance Ministry -- in the morning, but left after noon.
It was not immediately clear when Mr Garg submitted his voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) application to the government. It was also not known if the government would accept the application. If he hadn''t applied for VRS, he would have retired from government service at the end of October 2020 on attaining of 60 years of age.
1983 batch IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre, Mr Garg came to the centre in 2014 and was appointed Executive Director in the World Bank where he stayed till 2017, when he was appointed DEA Secretary in June 2017. In December 2018, he was elevated as the Finance Secretary after the retirement of Hasmukh Adhia.
As per convention, the senior-most among the 5 secretaries in the Ministry of Finance is designated as the Finance Secretary.
The secretaries in the Finance Ministry are Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar (1984-batch, Jharkhand cadre), Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey (1984-batch Bihar cadre), DEA Secretary Atanu Chakraborty (1985-batch, Gujarat cadre), Expenditure Secretary G C Murmu (1985-batch, Gujarat cadre) and DIPAM Secretary Anil Kumar Khachi (1986-batch, Himachal Pradesh cadre).
Do you agree with his Decision?
Rahul Gandhi officially resigns as Congress President; says 'thank you' in open letter
Rahul Gandhi said today it was "an honour to serve the Congress party" in a letter, he tweeted hours after declaring that he was no longer the party president. The designation of "President" also vanished from his Twitter bio, which now says "Member of Congress and Member of Parliament". A new Congress president will be chosen "within a week", party sources said, indicating an acceptance, finally, in the ranks that Rahul Gandhi will not return as their chief.
"It is an honour for me to serve the Congress Party, whose values and ideals have served as the lifeblood of our beautiful nation. I owe the country and my organisation a debt of tremendous gratitude and love," he wrote in what was widely seen as an open letter of resignation.
"As president of the Congress party, I am responsible for the loss of the 2019 election. Accountability is critical for the future growth of our party. It is for this reason that I have resigned as Congress president."
Rahul Gandhi, 49, said rebuilding the party would need hard decisions and "numerous people will have to be made accountable for the failure of 2019" but it would be unjust to hold others accountable and "ignore" his own responsibility.
He said he had tasked a group of people to search for a new president.
The letter also focused on other factors in his loss, commenting that he "personally fought the prime minister, the RSS and the institutions they captured with all my being".
"The Prime Minister's win does not negate the breadth of corruption allegations against him; no amount of money and propaganda can ever hide the light of the truth," he wrote. "My fight has never been a simple battle for political power. I have no hatred or anger towards the BJP but every living cell in my body instinctively resists their idea of India."
He appeared to question whether a free press, an independent judiciary and a transparent election commission were missing in election 2019. "The stated objective of the RSS, the capture of our country's institutional structure, is now complete," he said, referring to the ruling BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Fearing that there was a real danger that elections would become a mere ritual "from now on", he said: "This capture of power will result in unimaginable levels of violence and pain for India. Farmers, unemployed youngsters, women, tribals, Dalits and minorities are going to suffer the most."
He ended with a call for his party to "radically transform" itself.
Earlier today, he had told reporters that the Congress should choose a new president "quickly and without further delay" and that he was not part of the process at all as he had already resigned.
"I'm nowhere in this process. I have already submitted my resignation and I am no longer the party president," said the 49-year-old.
He explained in his letter: "Most of my colleagues suggested that I nominate the next Congress president. While it is important for someone new to lead the party, it would not be correct for me to select that person".
His words indicated that a non-Gandhi may take charge of the grand old party that has mostly been headed by members of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
Rahul Gandhi said the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party's top decision-making body, should call a meeting at the earliest and decide on a new chief.
Rahul Gandhi, who took over as chief from his mother Sonia Gandhi in 2017, quit as Congress president on May 25, days after leading the party to its second national election drubbing. The party could win only 52 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, pulverized once again in the face of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP's massive victory.
Taking responsibility for the rout, Rahul Gandhi also criticized party leaders for weakening the Congress campaign by placing their own interests above the party.
In the weeks since Rahul Gandhi quit, there have been a rash of resignations in the Congress across the country.
Do you think there is any future of Congress party?
TDP Lawmakers Meet Vice President, Challenge Colleagues Merging With BJP
Five lawmakers of Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party this evening met Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, to challenge four of their colleagues switching over to the BJP. The TDP delegation - two Rajya Sabha and three Lok Sabha lawmakers - have asked for the initiation of disqualification proceedings under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution against the TDP lawmakers who merged with the BJP yesterday.
Four of TDP's six Rajya Sabha lawmakers - YS Chowdary, CM Ramesh, Garikapoati Mohan Rao, TG Venkatesh - met Venkaiah Naidu yesterday and gave him a letter that said they have "decided to merge" the TDP's Legislature Party with the BJP with immediate effect "under Paragraph 4 of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India".
The fourth paragraph of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution lists circumstances under which lawmakers who join other parties cannot be disqualified from the House. "The merger of the original political party of a member of a House shall be deemed to have taken place if, and only if, not less than two-thirds of the members of the legislature party concerned have agreed to such merger," the provision says.
The switchover was led by YS Chowdary, who was named TDP leader in Rajya Sabha just a few days ago. Considered close to Chandrababu Naidu, was a minister of state in the first Narendra Modi-led NDA government till March last year when TDP pulled out of the coalition.
Mr Chowdary said Andhra Pradesh's development could only be achieved by cooperation and not confrontation, in an apparent dig at the TDP chief who had quit the NDA over the centre's refusal to provide Special Status to Andhra Pradesh; he later became one of the key interlocutors of the opposition.
Incidentally, Income Tax department had raided residential and official premises of Mr Chowdary and Mr Ramesh last year over allegations of tax evasion and money laundering. Both had then claimed innocence.
Chandrababu Naidu, who is currently in Europe with family, yesterday tried to downplay his MPs switching to the BJP and said the TDP "will be back" and crises were nothing new to it.
With 4 MPs of TDP going in the BJP, is Chandrababu Naidu finished now?
5 CRPF Soldiers Killed In Anantnag Terror Attack; 1 Terrorist Shot Dead
Five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel have been killed and two have sustained injuries after their patrol team was attacked by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag district. A police inspector and a civilian have also been injured in the firing.
According to the reports, out of the two terrorists who attacked the team, one has been killed by security forces.
The soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty have been identified as Ramesh Kumar from Haryana's Jhajjar, Nirod Sarma from Assam's Nalbari, Satendra Kumar from UP's Muzaffarnagar, Mahesh Kumar Kushwaha from UP's Ghazipur and Sandeep Yadav from Madhya Pradesh's Dewas.
The incident took place at KP Road in Anantnag. The terrorists fired at the team with automatic rifles and hurled grenades.
Station House Officer of Anantnag Police Station, Arshad Ahmed, was injured in the attack and has been shifted to Srinagar for treatment, the news agency added.
The attack comes as the state administration is preparing for the annual Amarnath Yatra that would begin next month. The 46-day pilgrimage is scheduled to start from two routes, one of which passes from Anantnag.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has condemned the attack.
"Strongly condemn the barbarous attack on security personnel in Anantnag. My heart goes out to families of our martyred CRPF personnel. Prayers for speedy recovery of those injured," she tweeted.
Omar Abdullah, National Conference leader, also condemned the incident.
"Very sorry to hear about the attack on the CRPF personnel in Anantnag today. I unreservedly condemn this attack and pray for the souls of the departed. May the injured make a speedy and complete recovery," he tweeted.
Nearly 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in a suicide blast carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pulwama district earlier this year. It later snowballed into an aerial dogfight between India and Pakistan.
Do you think India should retaliate?
PM Modi's Aircraft Won't Fly Over Pak For Regional Meet SCO In Bishkek
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aircraft won't fly over Pakistan on its way to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan for regional meet SCO that starts tomorrow, the foreign ministry said today. This is widely seen as a snub to Pakistan days after reports suggested its government had "decided in principle" to allow PM Modi's plane to fly over its airspace.
In response to questions on the route the Prime Minister would take, a foreign ministry spokesperson said: "The government of India had explored two options for the route to be taken by the VVIP Aircraft to Bishkek. A decision has now been taken that the VVIP Aircraft will fly via Oman, Iran and Central Asian countries on the way to Bishkek."
Pakistan had closed its airspace on February 26 after Indian Air Force (IAF) planes bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot. Since then, it has only opened two of 11 routes, both through southern Pakistan.
India had requested Pakistan to let PM Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace on its way to Bishkek for the two-day SCO or Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meet.
Pakistan had decided to allow it, PTI reported on Monday, quoting an unnamed official as saying that the Imran Khan government had "approved in principle" the Indian government's request to let PM Modi's aircraft fly over the Pakistani airspace.
"The Indian government will be conveyed about the decision once the procedural formalities are completed. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will also be directed to notify the airmen subsequently," the official said. The official was also quoted as saying that Pakistan "was hopeful that India would respond to its offer for peace dialogue".
Foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar says no bilateral meeting has been arranged between PM Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, who will also attend the meet.
Pakistan had given special permission to Sushma Swaraj, who was foreign minister in the previous Modi government, to fly directly through the Pakistani airspace to attend the SCO Foreign Ministers'' meet in Bishkek on May 21.
Apart from two routes, Pakistan's airspace remains closed for commercial airliners.
The Indian Air Force announced on May 31 that all temporary restrictions on the Indian airspace after the Balakot airstrike had been removed. However, it is unlikely to benefit any commercial airliners unless Pakistan reciprocates and opens its complete airspace.
International operations of Air India and IndiGo have been affected by the closure of Pakistani airspace.
Pakistan extended its partial airspace ban on eastern border with India until June 14.