New Delhi: Tamil Nadu’s Additional Chief Secretary Jagmohan Singh Raju’s voluntary retirement from service was accepted Thursday. Hours later, he was fielded as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in Punjab.
In his resignation letter to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin Tuesday, Raju said “painful conditions of his home state Punjab” were weighing “heavy on his conscience” and he felt the need to do something since he was a “son of the soil”.
Late in the evening Thursday, after the Stalin government accepted his resignation, the BJP fielded him as a candidate from Amritsar East. He will be up against Congress Punjab chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia.
— BJP (@BJP4India) January 27, 2022
Speaking to ThePrint before the list was released, Raju explained that over the past two years, he had been itching to return to Punjab to work for the state’s development.
“I left Punjab for Tamil Nadu in the 1980s. When I left it was on the top of all parameters, now it has slid badly in every aspect — economic development, agrarian situation, social justice etc. Tamil Nadu went up and Punjab slid down,” he said.
Before he was named the BJP candidate, Raju was non-committal in his answers about the choice of his party, saying he would be open to working with any party that was in power at the Centre since development of Punjab could only come with Centre-state coordination.
Raju, who is fairly active on Twitter, had thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November for repealing the farm laws, saying “kindness and generosity are the virtues of a statesman”.
Thank, with folded hands, @narendramodi the Hon @PMOIndia for announcing repealing of farm laws. It brings the much needed succour to suffering farmers, specially from Punjab. Kindness and generosity r the virtues of a Statesman. may Guru Nanak bless you Sir 🙏 #Farmlawsrepealed
— Jagmohan Singh Raju (@jagmohansraju) November 19, 2021
An IAS officer of the 1985-batch of the Tamil Nadu cadre, Raju is also a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge and has done a PhD in public policy from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 2016. His wife Anu Singh is a member of the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
‘Does Punjab deserve this’
Speaking to ThePrint, Raju expressed disappointment with the present ‘abusive’ discourse in Punjab. “Is there an election in Punjab? All I hear is gali-galoch. Candidates are only abusing each other, no one is talking about the development of Punjab. Does Punjab deserve this?”
Starting his IAS career as a 22-year-old in Tamil Nadu and having served in the state for more than two decades, Raju explained there was a lot to learn from TN — from the teachings of Periyar to the history of the self-respect movement.
In his letter to Stalin, Raju said his “conscience was stirred” when the CM administered the social justice pledge on Periyar’s birth anniversary. The civil servant said he had to emulate Stalin’s spirit and “follow your footsteps of serving one’s people”. Raju also said he was guided by the teachings of B.R. Ambedkar and Guru Nanak.
He added that TN and Punjab were quite similar in many ways, since both were governed by strong regional parties. The only difference was that Punjab had gone down while TN had risen up.
“I am a trained bureaucrat and have worked with different governments. Ideology does not bother me, Punjab’s welfare does”, said Raju, who has had several tenures at the Centre too.
Speaking about Raju’s move, a senior civil servant in Tamil Nadu who had served with him earlier, told ThePrint: “This is just a case of a bureaucrat who has retired who has now joined politics.”