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Is Sidhu not officers’ choice? 

Chandigarh: Three bureaucrats have expressed unwillingness to continue in the Local Bodies Department, headed by Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, over alleged differences with him.

Sources said the minister and Ajoy Sharma, CEO of the Punjab State Water Supply and Sewerage Board, had a spat last week, following which the latter applied for a Central Government deputation. Sharma is learnt to have told his seniors that he does not want to work in the state. He is also learnt to have sought an NOC from the state Personnel Department.

Though the minister has denied having issues with Director, Local Bodies, KK Yadav, sources said the latter proceeded on leave last week amid finalisation of the delimitation of municipal wards for the local bodies scheduled to go to the polls. Sources said the minister, apparently under pressure from some Congress MLAs, wanted the delimitation to be done in a certain way, but the officer refused.

The officer reportedly discussed his “predicament” with senior officials in the Chief Minister’s Office before proceeding on leave. Sidhu, however, told The Tribune that the officer had availed Leave Travel Concession (LTC). A PCS officer, Hargunjit Kaur, too, reportedly sought a transfer from the department following alleged disagreement with the minister.

Last month, the minister had a “run-in” with Additional Chief Secretary Satish Chandra. Sidhu reportedly wanted the officer to bring in an agenda for imposing entertainment tax on DTH and cable connections. Sources said the officer was not willing to do so as he felt it was not in accordance with the rules. Though the minister prevailed upon the Chief Secretary and the Additional Chief Secretary to bring in the agenda, the latter sought a transfer.

Earlier, the minister is learnt to have had a tiff with JM Balamurugan, then managing director of Punjab Municipal Infrastructure Development Corporation. The officer subsequently sought a transfer.

A few months ago, officials in the CMO had intervened and sought to play the peacemaker between the minister and the officers. An emissary was sent to explain to Sidhu “the ways of governance”, but the move did not go down well with him.

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