Meet Anil Baijal, Delhi’s New Lt Governor

Anil Baijal- The new LG of Delhi


Earlier this month, Najeeb Jung ended his tumultuous tenure as the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi by tendering his resignation to the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. The 1973 cadre IAS officer and former Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia University, Jung had been sworn in as the 20th Lieutenant Governor of the national capital in July 2013. Ever since Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal assumed office as the Chief Minister of Delhi,  Jung’s confrontations with the CM grew more frequent and more vociferous. Mr. Jung did not give any reasons for quitting the Lt Governor’s office but speculations are rife.

The New Lieutenant Governor

Even as Jung’s resignation was being processed, the officials at the Home Ministry swung into action and put together a list of candidates for the vacant Lt Governor’s office. The list was sent to the Prime Minister’s Office and subsequently President Pranab Mukherjee. The President gave his approval for Anil Baijal’s appointment as the Lt Governor of Delhi two days ago.

The Other Candidates

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the other candidates who were considered for the post of Lt Governor of Delhi were former administrator K.J. Alphons and former police commissioner of Delhi Ajai Raj Sharma. Alphons had served as the head of the Delhi Development Authority and was at the centre of a controversy regarding the demolition of illegal constructions in the capital while Sharma served as the police commissioner between 1999 and 2002. Sharma also served as the Director General of the largest paramilitary force in the world, India’s Border Security Force (BSF).

Anil Baijal, the Lt Governor elect, is slated to take oath on 31 December, 2016 and the ceremony is likely to be attended by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, apart from other Cabinet ministers, senior administrators and bureaucrats of Delhi.

Who is Anil Baijal?

Aged 70, Anil Baijal is a 1969 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from the AGMUT cadre. AGMUT stands for Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory. Despite some misgivings about his initial selection from the Union Territories cadre, there is no doubt that Baijal is a fit candidate to resolve the ongoing battles with the state government. In his capacity as the vice chairman of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA, Anil Baijal has walked the tightrope between the Delhi government and the Centre and has a clear understanding of how the Delhi administration should be run. His lack of political inclinations or bias is also a great advantage.

Former Home Secretary

Baijal was appointed to serve as Union Home Secretary in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. It is believed that he had succeeded several senior officers in being chosen for the post. The subsequent UPA government had, however, removed him from the post and transferred him to the Urban Development Ministry. Under the Manmohan Singh government, Baijal was closely involved with the designing and implementation of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), an INR 60,000 crore project.

Among Baijal’s other notable stints is his tenure as the Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Airlines. It was at this time (in December 1999) that Indian Airlines Flight IC 814 was hijacked by terrorists of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. The flight was on its way from Kathmandu to Delhi and was forced to land in Kandahar in Afghanistan (after landing in Amritsar, Lahore and Dubai). The passengers and crew on board were ultimately released but only after one passenger had been killed by the hijackers. The Indian government set free three known terrorists in exchange for the lives of the passengers on board the flight. It is also under Baijal that the state owned carrier posted a tremendous amount of profit – to the tune of INR 79 crore against an expected profit of INR 15 crore.

Baijal has also served as the Chief Executive Officer of Prasar Bharati Corporation during which he introduced the DD Bharti format. He also served as the Development Commissioner of Goa and was also oversaw the aid extended by India to Nepal. Baijal has also served as an independent director and as the non-executive chairman with IDFC Limited, one of the country’s leading finance companies.

Post Retirement Involvements

Following his retirement in 2006, Baijal took up the leadership of a committee set up by the Narendra Modi government. The main responsibility of the committee was to suggest better monitoring systems for the corporate social responsibilities implemented by the government. The committee submitted its final report in September last year.

Baijal is also closely associated with Vivekananda International Foundation, a think-tank based in Delhi. A number of the foundation’s members such as Ajit Doval (India’s National Security Advisor) have been appointed to senior offices by the government.

The Path Ahead

Anil Baijal is known to be an able administrator likely to follow the rule book. While we hope that his appointment certainly weeds out the long battles between his new office and that of the Delhi government, Baijal’s job will not be an easy one. It remains to be seen if he takes a hard stance on the Shungulu committee’s report. This committee was set up by Jung and has reported a number of irregularities in the decisions made by the Kejriwal government. Baijal will also be tasked with the appointment of a new chief for the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC). Baijal maintains great connections in Delhi’s bureaucratic circles and is known to be a firm but benevolent taskmaster.



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