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Message to BJP? As Bihar appoints Muslim chief secretary, JD(U) says Nitish ‘doesn’t divide’

Amir Subhani is the only Muslim civil servant serving as chief secretary right now. BJP has said chief secretary's appointment is the chief minister’s 'prerogative'.

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New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to appoint as chief secretary IAS officer Amir Subhani is being seen as a political message to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), his alliance partner in the state, with senior Janata Dal (United) leaders saying that the CM would never “divide” on the basis of caste and religion.

Subhani, appointed Thursday and set to take charge Saturday, is the only Muslim civil servant serving as chief secretary right now. There is no Muslim serving as chief minister at this point either. 

On its part, the BJP has said that the chief secretary’s appointment is the chief minister’s “prerogative”.

Subhani, the 1987-batch IAS topper, hails from Bihar’s Siwan district. According to his colleagues and peers in the state government, he has been the civil servant closest to the chief minister. 

Known as “honest and effective”, Subhani was the district magistrate of Bhojpur during the 1990s, when the caste war between the Ranvir Sena and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI M-L) was raging.

Subhani managed the situation efficiently and, in the course of time, became close to senior politicians, including Nitish Kumar, said a senior official of the Bihar government. 

Subhani has earlier served as the home commissioner (principal secretary, home department) of Bihar for almost a decade (2009-2019) — the longest tenure for any civil servant heading Bihar’s home department. In February this year, he was made the development commissioner. 

Also read: Who did better, Nitish or Lalu? Bihar debates as CM completes 15 yrs, ‘mixed bag’ say experts

Never interfered with CM’s work: BJP

Subhani is the most senior IAS officer in the state. 

“Amir Subhani ji is one the finest officers the state has, and he has seniority and experience on his side. However, this is a great decision by our leader Nitish Kumar ji and is symbolic too,” said K.C. Tyagi, general secretary of JD(U).

“It is a clear message for all to realise that Nitish Kumar will never discriminate on the lines of religion and caste.”  

Tyagi said Subhani “is Bihar’s first Muslim chief secretary and is the only one in any NDA-ruled state”.

“So, this way, this is another indication about Nitish Kumar’s firm hold over the governance part. He always ensured that his government would never divide through caste and religion,” he added. 

According to a senior state official, Nitish Kumar has always been in favour of making sure that there is a Muslim civil servant in an important position. 

“Before Amir Subhani, the chief minister had Afzal Amanullah as principal secretary of the home department. Moreover, Subhani is the least controversial officer. There has never been any charge of corruption or any controversy against him,” the official said. 

Subhani, a widower, has a keen interest in Urdu poetry (shayari), added the official. His wife, who was a doctor, died of an ailment around five years ago. 

Asked about Subhani’s appointment, Sanjay Jaiswal, a three-term BJP MP from Bihar and the party’s state unit chief, said appointing a chief secretary is the chief minister’s “prerogative”. 

“We know that Amir Subhani sahab has been the most senior in the office and he is known as an honest officer. This is no issue with us. The chief minister can appoint any officer he wants as the chief secretary. We never interfered in the chief minister’s functioning and there has been no objection,” he added. 

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)

Also read: From special status to namaaz ban, ally BJP is playing opposition to Nitish’s Bihar govt


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