Wednesday, June 19, 2013

JD Seelam: How an IAS officer’s high risk appetite makes him a Union Minister

COME August, IAS-turned Congress leader from Andhra Pradesh Jesudasu Seelam will turn 60. That means, had he continued in bureaucracy which he had left in 1999 to join active politics, Seelam would have retired in two months and gone into oblivion like most of his senior colleagues in bureaucracy. On Monday, this two-time Rajya Sabha MP…
was sworn in as a minister of state for finance, and would now assist finance minister P Chidambaram in the North Block. Most of his colleagues call him JD Seelam.
Former finance minister of the BJP era Yashwant Sinha is another ex-IAS who jumped into the political bandwagon and successfully moved his way up to become the country’s finance and external affairs ministers during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s time.
Similarly, former revenue secretary NK Singh and former Uttar Pradesh cadre IAS Ram Chandra Prasad Singh or RCP, both JD (U) MPs in Rajya Sabha now, are Nitish Kumar’s trusted men in New Delhi. If Bihar CM gets a chance to play a direct role at the Centre, either of the two, or even both could be Central ministers.
Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi is another example of a bureaucrat becoming an active politician. Jogi was an IPS officer who resigned to join active politics.
Seelam’s appointment as a Central minister has come at a time when the Congress needs to fight a two-front battle in Andhra Pardesh, one with Chandrababu Naidu of Telugu Desam Party and the other with the state’s rising star, Jaganmohan Reddy of YSR Congress. Andhra Pradesh has now 12 ministers in Manmohan Singh’s team.
Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, Seelam joined as a Karnataka cadre IAS in 1984. Earlier, he was selected for Indian Audit and Accounts Services, and then as an IPS. Belonging to Mala community, an SC community, Seelam taught chemistry in a college before joining bureaucracy.
But Seelam did face hurdles in his initial political journey. After joining the Congress, he fought the Lok Sabha election from Bapatla constituency in Andhra Pradesh, but he lost the battle. He then struggled in the state politics before getting a nomination to Rajya Sabha in 2004.
Here is a footnote. Finance secretary RS Gujral who is eight batches senior to Seelam in the IAS, will now have to address the latter with a prefix: “sir”.

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