Sunday, May 28, 2023
Support Our Journalism
HomePolitics10 IAS, IFS and other civil servants who made it big in...

10 IAS, IFS and other civil servants who made it big in politics

Text Size:

Chhattisgarh IAS officer O.P. Choudhary joins a long list of those who made the switch. He signed up with the BJP at CM Raman Singh’s behest.

New Delhi: Raipur district collector O.P. Choudhary, a 2005 batch IAS officer from Chhattisgarh, resigned from service last week to join the BJP.

Choudhary reportedly decided to take the plunge into politics at the behest of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who was impressed by his work as collector of insurgency-hit Dantewada and Raipur. The young officer also made the switch because he wanted to “do something different”. He is likely to contest from his home constituency Kharsiya in this winter’s assembly elections.

But he’s not the only one to make this switch. ThePrint takes a look at 10 other civil servants who’ve gone down this path and succeeded, starting with one of Choudhary’s new political rivals.

Ajit Jogi

Ajit Jogi was also a district collector when he decided to join politics. An IAS officer of the 1968 batch, he joined the Congress after being prodded by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Jogi went on to become the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh.

Once a Gandhi family loyalist, Jogi faced a lot of charges of corruption and criminal cases, and finally quit the Congress in 2016 after his MLA son Amit was expelled from the party for six years. The adivasi leader then formed the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress, which is expected to eat into the Congress’s vote bank in the coming elections.

Yashwant Sinha

Born in Patna, Yashwant Sinha joined the IAS in 1960 and remained a bureaucrat till 1984. He went on to become the finance minister in Chandra Shekhar’s union cabinet in 1990-91 as a member of the Janata Dal, before switching to the BJP and serving as finance minister and external affairs minister in the BJP-led NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

In 2018, he quit the BJP as a result of differences with the current party leadership. His son Jayant Sinha is the minister of state for civil aviation.

Also read: Ex-union ministers Yashwant Sinha & Arun Shourie demand CAG audit into Rafale deal

Meira Kumar

Born in Arrah, Bihar, Meira Kumar became the first women in India to hold the position of Lok Sabha Speaker from 2009 to 2014. Her father, Babu Jagjivan Ram, served as the fourth Deputy Prime Minister of India.

Kumar joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973 and served for more than a decade.

She arrived in politics with a bang in 1985 by defeating Ram Vilas Paswan and Mayawati in the Bijnor by-election.

In 2004, she was appointed minister of social justice and empowerment in the Congress-led UPA government. Congress also fielded Meira Kumar for the post of President of India in 2017, when she lost to Ram Nath Kovind.

Mani Shankar Aiyar

Born in Lahore, Mani Shankar Aiyar joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1963, retiring in 1989 to join politics. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Mayiladuturai, Tamil Nadu, in 1991. Since then, he has served in various capacities in the government, and held portfolios such as petroleum and natural gas (2004-06), youth affairs and sports (2006-08) and development of the Northeastern region (2008-09).

Aiyar, who was senior to Rajiv Gandhi at the Doon School, was close to the former Prime Minister and has remained in the good books of the Gandhi family. He has, however, shown a penchant for courting controversies, including his infamous “chaiwala-can’t-be-PM” remark during the 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign and his “neech aadmi” jibe against PM Modi ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections last year, which resulted in his suspension from the Congress. The suspension was revoked recently.

Natwar Singh

Natwar Singh joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1953 and served for 31 years. During his tenure as an IFS officer, he was posted in important embassies such as China and the US.

In 1984, he left the IFS and joined the Congress. He was elected in the eighth Lok Sabha from Bharatpur, Rajasthan. The same year, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan.

In 1985, he became minister of state in the ministries of steel, coal & mines, and agriculture in Rajiv Gandhi’s government. He also served as the minister of external affairs in Manmohan Singh’s UPA government.

Singh was once very close to the Gandhi family and was perhaps the only leader to address then Congress president Sonia Gandhi as “Sonia”. He fell from grace after his unceremonious exit from the union cabinet following an uproar over the oil-for-food scandal, allegedly involving his son Jagat.

Arvind Kejriwal

Kejriwal completed his graduation in mechanical engineering from IIT Kharagpur in 1989. In 1992, he joined the Indian Revenue Service.

A few years later, he became a campaigner for Indians to have the right to information, and won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in 2006.

Under the leadership of fellow anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, Kejriwal was a prominent face of the Jan Lokpal Movement in 2011, and used that momentum to launch the Aam Aadmi Party in 2012. The party emerged as the second largest party in the Delhi assembly elections in 2013, and Kejriwal became CM with Congress support. However, 49 days later, his government fell, only to return to power in 2015 with an unprecedented majority of 67 seats out of 70.

Also read: Suicide prompts three IAS officers to show the unglamorous side of civil services

Bureaucrats in the Modi government

Hardeep Singh Puri

Hardeep Singh Puri is currently minister of state (independent charge) for housing and urban affairs.

Puri joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1974, and served as ambassador to the UK and Brazil. He was also India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva as well as in New York, and was twice president of the UN Security Council — in August 2011 and November 2012. He also served as chairman of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee in 2011-2012.

Puri joined the BJP in January 2014 and was inducted in the council of ministers on September 2017.

Raj Kumar Singh

Raj Kumar Singh is a former Bihar-cadre IAS officer of the 1975 batch who served as union home secretary. Singh was the district magistrate of Samastipur when BJP leader L.K. Advani was arrested during his Rath Yatra in 1990.

Singh joined the BJP in 2013. He is currently the minister of state (independent charge) for power and new & renewable energy, and represents Bihar’s Arrah constituency in the Lok Sabha.

Satyapal Singh

Satyapal Singh is a former Indian Police Service officer of the 1980 batch of the Maharashtra cadre. He also served as the police commissioner of Mumbai, and played an important role in eliminating organised crime syndicates in Mumbai during the 1990s. Singh has been honoured with the Antrik Suraksha Sewa Padak in 2008 for his extraordinary services in the Naxal-hit regions of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

In 2014, he resigned as the Mumbai Police chief and joined the BJP. He contested and won the Baghpat seat in the 2014 general elections, and is currently a minister of state for human resource development.

In 2016, Singh made a serious allegation against the UPA government that it had tried to lure him into framing Narendra Modi (then chief minister of Gujarat) in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case.

Singh also kicked up a controversy earlier this year when he said that Darwin’s theory of evolution is “scientifically wrong” and should not be taught in schools and colleges.

Alphons Kannanthanam

Alphons Kannanthanam, who hails from Kottayam district of Kerala, is a retired IAS officer of the 1979 batch.

Alphons came into the limelight while serving as commissioner of the Delhi Development Authority in the 1990s, when he demolished several illegal buildings and reclaimed land amounting to more than Rs 10,000 crore. This earned him the moniker ‘Demolition Man’.

Also read: Good intentions, bad HR practice: Inducting civil service aspirants into the armed forces

He retired from the IAS in 2006 and was elected as an Independent MLA from Kanjirappally in Kottayam that year, with the backing of the Left Democratic Front.

He joined the BJP in 2011 and six years later, became a Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan. He is currently the minister of state for electronics and information technology, as well as the minister of state (independent charge) for tourism.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Now Satyapal Singh takes aid from History-sheeters to have his political base intact, search Paramveer Tugana and see how he has murdered anyone to climb the ladder, took ransom and killed the only child of mid sized business family, and Satyapal Singh protects him and helping him in entering politics, what a disgrace!

  2. Tathagata Roy, the present governor of Meghalaya, is formerly a railway officer belonging to Indian Railway Service of Engineers.

Comments are closed.

Most Popular