NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi may have tried to woo OBCs by highlighting that only three Union secretaries were from among the community, his party has had a poor track record in terms of deploying reserved category officers in important positions.
In the four states currently governed by Congress, chief secretaries are from the general category.Likewise, of the six states headed by Congress’s coalition partners, onlyTamil Nadu has a chief secretary belonging to the reserved category (ST).
Chief secretaries in states governed by Congress and its allies, Prabodh Saxena (Himachal Pradesh), Anurag Verma (Punjab), Usha Sharma (Rajasthan), Vandita Sharma (Karnataka), Amir Subhani (Bihar), H K Dwivedi (West Bengal), Amitabh Jain (Chhattisgarh), Sukhdev Singh (Jharkhand) and V Venu (Kerala), all belong to the upper caste category. Shiv Das Meena (Tamil Nadu), from the ST category, is the only exception.

Speaking on the women’s quota bill in Lok Sabha, Rahul had said that only three out of 90 secretaries to the government of India were OBCs. He had reiterated his remarks at a poll rally in Chhattisgarh on September 25. “These secretaries only control 5% of the budget. If the country’s budget is Rs 44 lakh crore, then they control only Rs 2.2 lakh crore,” Rahul had said.
Countering the claim, home minister Amit Shah had said it was the government that ran the country, not the secretaries.
Government records show that from 1985 to 1989 when late Rajiv Gandhi was PM, no secretary to the government belonged to any reserved category (SC/ST). In 2023, seven secretaries belonged to the SC category and five to the ST category.

While there were only two officers of the rank of additional secretary/joint secretary belonging to OBC category in 2014, the number has since risen to 63.
All officers who served as principal secretary/secretary to Congress PMs (Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh) during the Congress regime were from the general category.
Government sources said the reservation for OBC category was introduced in 1993 and officers who availed of the quota and joined the services belonged to the 1995 batch who had not reached the secretary rank yet.

“Rahul Gandhi’s remarks were strategically innocuous and politically motivated. Making such a comparison was flawed and wrongful,”Jitendra Singh, minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions said. He said Rahul should have used common sense before making such remarks.
“It takes more than two-and-a-half decades for an IAS officer to reach secretary level. The first batch of OBC officers were recruited in 1995 after implementation of the Mandal Commission report, and are now being given secretary level responsibilities.
“Moreover, the appointment of secretaries at the Centre is done after a 360 degree evaluation unlike Congress ruled states where such appointments are also politically driven,” Singh said.

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