Patna: Under reported pressure from ally Bharatiya Janata Party, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has allegedly been forced to remove senior IAS officer Amir Subhani, principal Home Secretary, considered most trusted and faithful to him. Ironically, Subhani is replaced by Senthil K Kumar, an IAS who had earlier been suspended following corruption charges, as new state home secretary.
In a major administrative reshuffle on the night of December 31, the state government transferred 29 IAS officers including Subhani. But it should be noted that Subhani’s removal was demanded by BJP leader Sanjay Paswan, who is considered close to RSS.
Subhani, an IAS topper of 1987 batch, has been known for his loyalty CM Nitish Kumar as state home secretary since 2005. Popularly known as a ‘Yes Man’, Subhani is among the half dozen senior bureaucrats in the good books of Nitish Kumar.
However on December 26, BJP MLC and former Union minister Sanjay Paswan, demanded Subhani’s removal as home secretary, questioning the reason behind continuing with the same home secretary for over 15 years despite the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. Paswan’s statement had led to many eyebrows being raised as the former home secretary had enjoyed the CM’s support since he came to power over one and half decade ago.
The BJP MLC also advised Nitish Kumar to leave the responsibility of the Home Department, which Kumar is in charge since he became CM. The top BJP leadership, before the formation of NDA government on November 16, had reportedly urged Nitish Kumar to hand over the charge of the home department to a minister from the saffron party, but he had refused.
Several BJP leaders have publicly made it clear that the failure to check rising crime is the responsibility of Kumar, who took oath as the chief minister for the sixth time on November 16.
According to sources in BJP, the party’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has strong reservations with Subhani being the home secretary, as he had played an important role in maintaining law and order and communal harmony as well as his role as principal secretary of the Minority Welfare Department in the state.
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“Subhani has ordered action against several leaders and workers associated with different organisations of Sangh Parivar for maintaining communal harmony and peace. His role is partisan and questionable. Besides, Subhani has always focused more on minority welfare than others. With BJP as the big brother in the government in the state, the party has put pressure to get Subhani removed,” said a BJP source.
“The RSS, through BJP leaders, has managed to remove Subhani as home secretary to push its agenda smoothly because this time, Nitish Kumar is a weak chief minister. Kumar’s only concern now seems to be to save his chair and survive,” he added.
According to him, BJP has understood the ground reality and is preparing to play a bigger role in the politics of the state by putting their men in top positions across various department. He said, “It is thanks to Nitish Kumar’s poor political performance in the recently concluded polls that BJP, which had no such control of politics in the state before, is in a powerful position as today.”
Meanwhile, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Bihar, led by the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief Nitish Kumar and two deputy chief ministers from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is in the line of fire from the opposition including Left parties. Opposition leaders have alleged that the spike in crime cases reflected a ground reality – criminals let free to prosper with the police failing to keep them in check.
Nitish Kumar had already held three high level review meetings on law and order and one unexpected visit to police headquarters to discuss the situation with police officers within a month's time.
But Kumar’s crime-control meetings have hardly made any difference in decreasing reported incidents of crimes. It appears that the self-proclaimed “double engine” government led by Nitish Kumar, who hardly misses an opportunity to remind the people that he has established rule of law in Bihar, is failing on the front. This is the very point that the Opposition has used to slam the NDA government in the state.
Interestingly,Senthil K Kumar, a1996 batch Bihar cadre IAS officer, who has replaced Subhani as home secretary, was suspended in 2011 on corruption charges by the then NDA government. Later, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had attached assets worth Rs 2.51 crore belonging to K. Senthil Kumar.
It was reported that he had been accused of "causing huge loss to the exchequer" by illegally approving maps for builders, awarding contracts to favoured firms and inadequate collection of holding tax from prominent hotels of Patna, as per the release of ED then.
He was also charged with amassing huge wealth during his tenure as the district magistrate of Munger and the commissioner of Patna Municipal Corporation. Earlier, the state vigilance department had registered a case against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act. It had also filed a charge sheet against him for money laundering.
This development has come days after Nitish Kumar said that he was no longer interested in being CM and added that the NDA could choose any other leader for the post. Following the proclamation, Kumar installed IAS-turned-politician and senior party leader, R.C.P. Singh, as the next national president of the Janata Dal (United) in his place.
These developments are being seen as a sign of an increasingly uncomfortable Nitish Kumar in the growing shadow of the larger party in the alliance. Reports have also mentioned the growing differences between him and the BJP, which is “trying to play big brother and not giving the former a free hand to run the government”, as was the case in the past.