NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appreciation of former bureaucrats and technocrats entering politics is well known, be it S Jaishankar, Hardeep Singh Puri or Ashwini Vaishnaw. A hidden gem in this long list is Raj Kumar Singh, who remains away from the media limelight. RK Singh, as he is better known as, is a former Union Home Secretary and currently the Minister of Power in Modi’s Cabinet.
Singh joined the IPS in 1974 and the IAS in 1975. He was the District Magistrate of East Champaran from 1981-1983; and of Patna from 1983-1985. Senior officers and the administration took notice of him when riots in the aftermath of the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi were brought under control in two days.
But, his moment of fame came in 1990, when he stopped the famous Ayodhya Rath Yatra by arresting LK Advani on the orders of then-Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Advani was so impressed by his sincerity and integrity that he chose Singh for the position of Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry from 1999 to 2004, when the BJP-led NDA came to power. Such was the fanfare of his style and efficiency that he was one of the most sought-after bureaucrats in the country.
He served as the Union Home Secretary under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance from 2011-2013. His aura was so enigmatic that before he became the Union Home Secretary, the then-Defence Minister AK Antony chose him to lead the Department of Defence Production in 2009. Impressed by his no-nonsense attitude and ability to deliver results, the then-Union Home Minister P Chidambaram chose him for the top bureaucratic position in the Home Ministry.
But, his disagreement and dislike of the conduct of some of the UPA-II ministers did not remain hidden. RK Singh always stood up for his beliefs and did not shy away from confronting even the topmost authorities, especially on matters of internal or external security of the country.
He broke his silence and spoke against former home ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde and P Chidambaram over their alleged interference in Delhi Police postings and the Afzal Guru controversies respectively. With a career focused on internal security matters, he was instrumental in the crackdown on terror and Naxalism under the UPA regime. However, soon after his retirement, he joined the BJP and openly acknowledged that he is on the same nationalistic wavelength as the RSS. In 2014, he contested from Arrah in Bihar and defeated his nearest rival by over 1.35 lakhs votes.
Singh dedicated his life to public service and left his mark wherever he served. Bihar, one of the BIMARU states, owes it to him for overhauling of state’s roads during the first tenure of Nitish Kumar as Chief Minister.
Singh was the Principal Secretary of Road Construction Department of the State from 2006-2009. He started the work of laying down a web of road infrastructure and repaired the ones that were already in tatters.
Before becoming the Principal Secretary in Bihar, he held the post of Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, from 2000-2005. He revamped the scheme for police modernisation and initiated the much-needed scheme for prison modernisation. It was during this period that the framework for Disaster Management was laid down.
From 2009- 2011, Singh served as the Secretary in the Department of Defence Production. During his tenure, he persuaded, encouraged and ensured that the production from ordnance factories, defence shipyards, Hindustan Aeronautics and other defence manufacturing facilities created new benchmarks.
In his current avatar as the Union Minister of Power, Singh is putting his weight behind PM Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. He is deeply engrossed in pricing reforms so that manufacturing could become more competitive and boost power demand. Another focus area for him is the Indian industry’s vulnerability to dumping of below/ substandard solar module and to boast investor confidence in the sector.
RK Singh’s reputation has helped instill confidence in investors and today the power industry is one of the most attractive sectors for investors. The Power Minister’s own track record, a clearly chalked-out structure, reassurance that contracts will be honoured and enforced, and that investors’ interest will be protected, have yielded rich dividends for the sector.
On Singh’s birthday last year, PM Modi had tweeted, “He brings with him great administrative experience and an eye for detail. He is at the forefront of delivering on India’s power sector reforms. Praying for his long and healthy life.