Vini Mahajan is first woman Chief Secretary of Punjab

Chandigarh, June 26, 2020: Punjab today got its
first woman Chief Secretary after
the state government appointed
1987 batch IAS officer Vini
Mahajan as the new Chief
Secretary.
The development came after
weeks of power tussle, which saw
senior members of Capt Amarinder
Singh’s cabinet and his Congress
party colleagues level serious allegations
against Chief Secretary
Karan Avtar Singh, the top bureaucrat,
who was finally shunted out to
a non-descript post of Special Chief
Secy, Covernance Reforms.
Interestingly, neighbouring
Haryana too has a woman – Keshni
Anand Arora – Chief Secretary.
Mahajan’s husband Dinkar Gupta
is the state DGP, making the couple
possibly the first time anywhere in
the country where both the top
administrative positions in civil and
police administration are held by a
husband-wife duo.
Both are also very close to Capt
Amarinder’s close friend Aroosa
Alam, a Pakistan national, who has
emerged as a power centre in her
own right in the state.
However, there are indications
that Gupta could soon shift to the
Centre where he is expected to be
given a posting either in the
Intelligence Bureau or as head of a
central paramilitary force, possibly
Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
As Chief Secretary, unless
removed early, Maharjan will be at
the helm till her retirement in
October 2024.
In appointing her, the Amarinder
government superceded several officers
senior to her, including 1984-
batch officer K.B.S. Sidhu and
1985-batch officer Satish Chandra.
The daughter of a retired IAS officer,
BB Mahajan, Vini Mahajan
studied economics in Lady Shri
Ram College, Delhi and also did
MBA from the Indian Institute of
Management, Calcutta.
Incidentally, she had a long stint
at the Centre during the UPA regime
where she was Joint Secretary in the
Prime Minister’s Office during the
tenure of Dr Manmohan Singh.
Mahajan’s predecessor, Karan
Avtar Singh had fallen foul of several
powerful ministers, especially
Finance Minister Manpreet Singh
Badal, after they accused him of
rude behavior and wrong attitude.
However, at the heart of the conflict
between the Chief Secretary
and the ministers was the new
excise policy, which several ministers
didn’t like.
The ministers had kept away from
cabinet meetings to protest against
the Chief Secretary’s attitude.
However, there were rumours that
the issue was more than just the
Chief Secretary’s attitude, with
many suggesting that the excise policy
was used to ease him out.
While he later apologised to the
ministers, Singh’s days as Chief
Secretary were numbered ever since
he was divested of additional charge
as Financial Commissioner,
Taxation.

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