Friday, August 14, 2015

An untold story of new Election Commissioner OP Rawat: How he cornered MP’s liquor lobby and raised revenues

FIRST, the basic news. Om Prakash Rawat, 1977 batch retired IAS of Madhya Pradesh cadre, was on Thursday appointed as Election Commissioner ahead of crucial Bihar assembly polls. With Rawat’s appointment, the Election Commission has the full team -- Naseem Zaidi as Chief Election Commissioner and Achal Kumar Joti as the other Election Commissioner. Before giving details about Rawat’s career in IAS, BoI here picks out one of several success stories that he had in his three and half decades-long career as an Indian Administrative Service officer. It was January 2004. Rawat was then the...
excise commissioner in Madhya Pradesh. After taking charge of his new assignment, he was surprised that the annual excise earning for the state of Madhya Pradesh remained at about Rs 800 crore for the previous 10 years. He did some back-of the-envelope analysis to figure out that unless transparency was brought into the system and the very character of the trade is altered, the revenue could not be raised.
He decided to fix liquor license prices at a higher rate and introduced a lottery system to decide who should get those permits. As it turned out, a number of educated people came forward and applied for liquor shop licenses, and the liquor lobby that used to capture the licenses earlier, was cornered. And the excise revenue registered a 25% increase in the very first year itself. And eight years later, Madhya  Pradesh earned about Rs 4,000 crore a year as excise revenue. Interestingly, some women entrepreneurs too jumped into the bandwagon and began running liquor shops, a business which was once dominated by a few men.
Those who know Rawat say he is the true gentleman IAS. Soft-spoken but a staunch follower of the rule book, Rawat is widely respected by his bureaucrat colleagues and politicians alike.
He was principal secretary to Babu Lal Gaur, the former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh (2004 and 2006). Later, he served as union secretary of department of public enterprises (DPE) and held additional charge of department of heavy industries as well.
Rawat is a recipient of Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration in 2010 for recognition of forest rights in Madhya Pradesh.
Born in December 1953, Rawat will get a tenure in Election Commission till December 2018. According to rules, Election Commissioner or Chief Election Commissioner gets a six-year-long tenure in office or till he or she attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.


  1. Om Prakash Rawat appointment is great news for Madhya Pradesh. He is known as a good bureaucrat. He has executed his duties with honesty and according to rule. He was not admired by the politicians in Madhya Pradesh because of his stubborn attitude. He never amalgamated with other bureaucrats. New assignment will give him an extra mileage.

  2. OP Rawat's biggest success story is not liquor but Recognition of Forest Rights for which he got PM's excellence award. He is a person who has shown compassion to the tribals and poor and due to the great work has also undone the 'historic injustice' to tribals. His efforts are responsible for containing Naxalism in Madhya Pradesh.

  3. Virender Singh IRTS Rtd.August 16, 2015 at 6:01 PM

    Sh OPRawat is one of the finest Officer who not only worked by rule books but had comppassion and consideration for welfare of the poor and common man besides good governance. Congratulations to him on his elevation as Election Commissioner of India.

  4. He has come from same family and same native place called jeron in distt. Tikamgarh. His father who was my father's cousin was a peon..He became IAS and not Election commissioner. But he is not a rooted and grounded person. Very proudy and big attitude problem ..