There are 65 ministers in the Modi Government
New Delhi: Congress MP PL Punia is the new Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSCs). He will assume charge on Friday.
According to official sources, President Pratibha Patil has appointed Punia, a retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) official, the new head of this watchdog organisation. He will assume charge on October 15.
Punia got membership of the Congress after his superannuation from the administrative service and was elected Member of Parliament from Barabanki parliamentary constituency in UP during 15th Lokshabha elections held last year.
While violations against India's 180 million scheduled caste citizens have been on the rise, this government agency set up to investigate them had been headless over four months.
Experts say Indian Constitution prescribes presidential appointment of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and three Members of the NCSCs but sets no time frame.
The NCSCs Chairmanship has been vacant since May 25, 2010, the Vice-Chairmanship and two memberships, since May 28, and another membership since May 29.
This is not the first time the posts have remained vacant since the NCSCs was carved out of the 28-year-old National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in February 2004.
The NCSCs Chairmanship was vacant for more than nine months after incumbent Suraj Bhan died in harness in August 2006. The other four posts, too, remained vacant for three months each.
Punia's appointment to this constitutional post is unlikely to please the UP Chief Minister Mayawati whom he served as Principal Secretary for first three terms in the top post before the Taj Heritage Corridor case led to a bitter falling out.
The schism between Punia, a 1970 batch IAS officer of UP cadre, and Mayawati is well known as the latter threw all her might to ensure his defeat in 2002 assembly polls. He, however, won in 2009 Lok Sabha elections from Barabanki which also saw a dip in BSP graph contrary to all-round expectations.