Babus to Netas: Maha Bureaucrats to Turn Politicians for LS Polls

Every election season witnesses former bureaucrats looking to throw their hats in the political ring. With former IAS and IFS officers like Satyapal Singh and RK Singh among others successfully realising their political ambitions in the recent past and bagging plum portfolios in the ministry, this year, the talks have already begun. Several high-profile bureaucrats from Maharashtra are a step away from making their foray into politics.

While most bureaucrats looking to make the switch have been extremely tight-lipped about their choice of parties and constituencies, here’s a look at a few names who are one step closer to making their mark in politics.

Dnyaneshwar Mulay

IFS officer Dnyaneshwar Mulay at an event.

After 36 years in foreign service, 60-year-old Dnyaneshwar Mulay is likely to make his foray in politics in 2019. Sources say, the former IFS officer could join the BJP and contest out of Kolhapur. Mulay and BJP, however, have been tight-lipped about the former’s political ambitions.

In April 2018, Dnyaneshwar Mulay’s book was released by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat in Pune. The event was attended by many BJP leaders. The bureaucrat had then stated, as quoted by HT, “I always feel good people should come into politics. As far as I am concerned, I will announce my plans once I retire from the government service.”

Sources say, Mulay could be pitched against Raju Shetti, the chief of Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana and one of the leaders of farmers’ movement demanding loan waiver. 

Also Read: ‘Arrogant BJP’s Sun Will Set in 2019’: Ex-NDA Partner Raju Shetti 

A native of Kolhapur district, Dnyaneshwar Mulay was born to Manohar Krishna Mulay, a farmer and tailor and Akkatai Mulay who was a home-maker. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Shivaji University in Kolhapur and then a master’s degree in Personnel Management from Mumbai University, Mulay joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1983.

He first served as the third secretary in Tokyo and later went on to hold various positions in Indian embassies in Japan, Moscow, Mauritius, Syria, New York. He also held the post of High Commissioner of India in Maldives. In 2016, Mulay assumed office as Secretary, Minister of External Affairs.

Aside from his role as a diplomat, Mulay is also an accomplished writer and has authored books published in Hindi and Marathi, including Nokarshahiche Rang, Swatahteel Awakash and others.

Also Read: Not Sure if I’ll Contest 2019 Polls: Cong Leader Milind Deora

Prabhakar Deshmukh

Former IAS officer Prabhakar Deshmukh.

Former IAS officer Prabhakar Deshmukh is from the 1995 batch and served as Maharashtra’s agriculture commissioner and Pune divisional commissioner.

A native of Maan taluka in Madha, Deshmukh is likely to contest from the Madha Lok Sabha constituency as an NCP candidate. While speaking to Hindustan Times recently, Deshmukh said,

"“I have started work on ground in Madha constituency and have sought a ticket from the NCP.”" - Prabhakar Deshmukh to Hindustan Times

The 58-year-old bureaucrat, however, isn’t a stranger to controversy. In 2014, Pune Mirror reported that the IAS officer allegedly fudged figures while filing his Immovable Property Returns (IPR) in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Deshmukh’s decision to acquire 300 acres of agricultural land in Jambhe village in Satara that amounted to over Rs 125 crores in 2014 raked up the controversy.

The publication further reported that Deshmukh declared his property value at Rs 5.29 crore or less when it was actually worth Rs 47.42 crore.

Also Read: Maharashtra Congress, NCP launch pre-poll campaigns

Sambhaji Zende

Former IAS officer Sambhaji Zende.

An officer from the 1993 IAS batch, Sambhaji Zende retired in 2017 from the post of vice president and CEO of MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority). Sources say, Sambhaji Zende is reportedly keen to contest the 2019 Vidhan Sabha polls from Pune’s Purandar with an NCP ticket.

The bureaucrat’s father, Sadashivrao Zende, was a former head of the Pune Zilla parishad and was a member of NCP. His brother-in-law, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil is a Congress leader. When asked by The Quint, Zende refused to comment on his political aspirations.

Some of the key highlights of Zende’s achievement as the MHADA Vice President include pushing for the redevelopment of British-era Bombay Development Directorate (BDD) chawl, slum redevelopment and affordable housing in land-starved Mumbai.

Born and brought up in Pune district, Sambhaji Zende earned a degree in BSc (Agri) from Agriculture College in Pune and then went on to do his master’s in the same subject. He then completed LLB and in 1980, joined services through the Maharashtra Public Service Commission.

His stints included being a trainee deputy collector of Nasik district, district collector of Mumbai Suburb and managing director at Maharashtra Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd.

Also Read: Cong and NCP in talks with secular parties for alliance: Ajit

Uttam Khobragade

Uttam Khobragade

67-year-old former IAS officer, Uttam Khobragade retired as the principal secretary in the Tribal Welfare Department in May 2011. After a brief stint with Republican Party of India before the 2014 elections, Khobragade ended up joining Congress in 2018.

The high-profile ex-IAS officer is likely to be fielded by Congress to contest from the Mumbai South Central parliamentary seat in 2019.

Born to a Dalit family in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli, Uttam Khobragade became an IAS officer of the 1984 batch. After kicking off his career in the departments of Land Revenue Management and Rural Development, Khobragade went on to become the collector and district magistrate of Mumbai Suburban District.

This was followed by his stint as the MD of Maharashtra Agricultural and Food Processing Corporation (MAFCO) and serving as the CEO of MHADA among other key posts. In June 2006, he joined the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) as the general manager.

Also Read: Maharashtra Congress moots 'grand alliance' for 2019 polls

Khobragade has faced his share of controversies, most of them involving his daughter, IFS officer Devyani Khobragade. Devyani was in the eye of a diplomatic storm when she was posted as India’s deputy consul-general in New York in 2013. She had been charged with visa fraud and underpaying her housekeeper Sangeeta Richard.  

Devyani Khobragade was arrested and strip searched and then asked to return to India in January 2014 in the wake of the allegations against her. Uttam and Devyani Khobragade also owned a flat in the infamous Adarsh Housing Society. Dismissing allegations of his involvement in the scam, Khobragade said,

"“Purchasing a flat in Adarsh society is not a crime, so don’t defame me. Neither the judicial commission nor the three CBI charge sheets have indicted me. I did not touch a single file related to Adarsh.” " - Uttam Khobragade to DNA

Also Read: Passport, visa processes being eased for diaspora Indians

While joining RPI in 2014, Khobragade had slammed the Congress for the way it had handled Devyani’s case, reported DNA.

"“No Dalit, who has self-respect, would support Congress, which was leading the UPA government during my daughter’s case. Congress also maligned our country’s image globally by purchasing Rs 2,500 crore worth military aircraft from the US post Devyani’s case.”" - Uttam Khobragade 

However, in 2018, stating his reason for joining Congress, Khobragade said, “Currently, the Congress is the only party which can counter the attack on secularism,” reported Hindustan Times.

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