New Delhi: Barely 10 weeks have passed since Vinay Kumar Saxena took charge of the Lt Governor’s office of LG Delhi, he has achieved yet another unprecedented success in forcing the Arvind Kejriwal government to make the biggest turnaround ever never He forced the Delhi government to roll back the much publicized liquor policy, not by using the LG’s veto power, but by threatening a CBI probe.
It has made the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), an anti-corruption movement, realize that it should have taken a closer look at its track record.
Before joining politics like Kejriwal, Saxena was a full-time activist who was not associated with any political party. Not even from BJP or RSS. From Medha Patkar and Teesta Setalvad to Madame Tussauds in London, she fought hard and won most of them.
As the head of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), he was embroiled in a controversy in 2017 when the government body used Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image instead of Mahatma Gandhi’s on its annual calendar and journals. Saxena defended the move, calling Modi “Khadi’s biggest brand ambassador” at the time.
In the past two years, Saxena has particularly voiced her support for policies such as the Modi government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act and Rahul Gandhi As are the criticisms of the prime minister’s political opponents.
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In a tweet from the KVIC president’s Twitter handle, Rahul was termed as “far away from the ground reality of India” for wearing a US polo brand T-shirt during the Parliament session.
From being a corporate executive of one of the country’s leading cement manufacturing companies to becoming the LG of Delhi, Saxena’s career graph has been a stark contrast to those who held his previous position , who were officials or defense.
Saxena may not be very popular in Lutyens’ Delhi, but he has been quite popular in the political and social circles of Gujarat.
Many officials and social activists in Gujarat say that the credit for bringing him to prominence is mostly due to building a strong counter-movement against the Narmada Bachao Andolan led by Medha Patkar. In response to Patkar’s movement, this campaign was particularly developed from the early 1990s to the late 2000s.
In 2015, a year after the Narendra Modi government came to power at the Centre, Saxena was appointed as the head of the KVIC, where he held the post for the longest period till April this year, and also he credited him with boosting the commission’s business during this period. is being given
On 26 May, he took over as Delhi LG in place of Anil Baijal.
His appointment by the central government comes at a time when Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, which has an elected government in Delhi, is trying to spread its wings, especially after its victory in Punjab earlier this year. where elections will be held later this year, as a challenger to the BJP.
Ever since Saxena, 63, arrived at Delhi’s Raj Niwas, he has often been in the news for his clashes with the ruling party on various issues.
Saxena’s personality seems multi-faceted.
His bio on the Raj Niwas website is enough to show this, which reads: “A philanthropist in mind and a corporate scientist in action.” The bio says he also has a pilot’s license.
A former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer shared an anecdote about Saxena, describing him as a “zealous Gandhian”.
The former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that when Saxena visited London’s Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in 2008, she was said to have been upset that the statue of Mahatma Gandhi had been placed “on the second floor”. a ‘garbage shed’ near an ice cream parlor and ‘they have not been given a place with other prominent personalities of the world’.
The former IAS officer said, “He (Saxena) wrote a letter to Gordon Brown (then UK Prime Minister) complaining about the condition of the Gandhi statue in the museum. In the letter , also referred to alleged racial bias.
“The statue of Gandhi was immediately moved to the room containing the statues of ‘world leaders’ on the ground floor of the museum,” he said. He (Saxena) often narrates the incident taking credit for it in political circles and during meetings with bureaucrats.
When Saxena took over as Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, his brief biography sent by the central government to Delhi Raj Niwas also mentioned the Madame Tussauds incident, a copy of which has been seen by ThePrint. But ultimately he was not included in the biography displayed on the Raj Niwas website.
The note, without giving any details about the incident, said: “Internationally, he took a bold step by moving the statue of Mahatma Gandhi to the world leaders’ exhibition hall at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in London”.
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Fight against Narmada warriors
A lawyer from Ahmedabad who says he has known Saxena for many years says he is a “man who doesn’t want to leave anything in between”.
Saxena is believed to have caught the attention of senior BJP officials and the party’s ideological guardian, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), by leading a counter movement against the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Saxena has waged a long legal battle against Patkar and Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad through an NGO called the National Council for Civil Liberties, established in 1991.
Several officials and social activists in Gujarat told ThePrint that Patkar and his colleagues who opposed various river projects were not only staunch opponents of the then Prime Minister Modi-led Gujarat government between 2001 and 2014, but Keshubhai Patel and Chimanbhai Patel including their predecessors. also against prime ministers.
Saxena’s legal battles—though most of them are still pending—played a key role in removing all hurdles to the Sardar Sarovar dam project.
The lawyer said, “When it comes to Patkar, Saxena never gives up.”
Even after he became the KVIC chairman, Saxena’s biography on the commission’s website mentioned Patkar’s agitation and called it a “wicked conspiracy” that Saxena had “exposed”.
The lawyer said, “In April 2021, Patkar was on a visit to West Bengal and was in talks with farmers mainly on the agricultural laws which were at their peak at that time. It was then that Saxena, who then he was the chairman of the Khadi Commission, he also followed him and held parallel dialogue sessions with the local people in their counter-movement against him in the areas visited by Patkar.
Saxena’s NGO apologized to actor Aamir Khan for his statements in support of Patkar on the rehabilitation of people affected by the Narmada dam in 2006, and wrote to actress Shabana Azmi twice in 2008 at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Scientific report that was critical of the project.
Saxena has been in the good books of other BJP chief ministers from the Chimanbhai Patel-led government in Gujarat to his activism as an activist, with his campaigns promoting the “pro-development” stance of BJP governments over the years nineties and in the 2000s. .
Ahmedabad-based journalist-turned-civil-rights activist Prakash N. Shah, 82, says, “I don’t remember ever seeing him on the ground. But still he was in the limelight, and often he spoke in social circles in Gujarat.The reasons for this were the successive lawsuits filed by him or his NGO’s frequent advertisements in Gujarati newspapers, which were often considered defamatory and usually aimed at critics of the state government.
Graduated from Kanpur University
Born and brought up in Uttar Pradesh, Saxena graduated from Kanpur University in 1981. Adani Ports and JK He started his career as an assistant officer in a private company in Rajasthan before moving to Gujarat in 1995 as Managing Director of the Dholera port project being developed by Cement.
He was subsequently promoted to the position of CEO and then Project Director.
Saxena calls Gujarat her “second home state”.
Saxena was appointed KVIC chairperson in 2015, just a year after Modi took office for the first time as prime minister.
It was during Saxena’s tenure that KVIC created history by doing business of 1.15 lakh crore in 2021-22. This is the highest turnover for KVIC and any consumer goods company in India. According to the organization’s annual report, its turnover in the financial year 2012-2013 was only Rs 1 billion.
According to a senior KVIC official who had worked with Saxena, his mandate was of new writings for the commission that changed the perception of Khadi and made it popular internationally. “His work in the Khadi Commission brought him closer to Prime Minister Modi,” the official said.
Over the years, Saxena has also served on several important commissions, which some officials say are a sign of his growing influence.
For example, in 2021, Saxena was included in the National Committee for the 75th Independence Anniversary Celebration and was also appointed as a member of the powerful Padma Award selection committee. Every year between 2016 and 2022, Saxena has been inducted as a member of the ‘Powerful Committee’ to assess the ‘Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration’.
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Trouble for Kejriwal
When Saxena took over as Lt. Governor of Delhi, he had clearly said, “I want to tell the people of Delhi that I will act as a local guardian… I am more visible on the streets than in the Raj Niwas.”
Saxena is really visible on the streets. Every other day they can be seen on tree plantation drives, checking landfills, participating in community events, inspecting sewage treatment plants, reviewing road projects, etc.
Since he took over, he Yamuna Cleaning, in Delhi depletion of groundwater severe winters every year in the national capital air pollution Public campaigns have been launched to address the problem of Most of these are areas where the AAP government in Delhi has been struggling since it came to power in 2015.
While the AAP has been accusing Saxena of “interfering” in the domain of the elected government, Saxena has made it clear that he does not like to play on the back foot.
A few weeks after taking charge, he authorized the Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate allegations of irregularities in the awarding of tenders by the AAP government for the setting up of seven temporary COVID-19 hospitals.
On July 22, Saxena recommended a CBI inquiry into Delhi’s excise policy.
On July 27, he wrote to Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel, seeking “constitutional enforcement” of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, a law passed by Parliament last year and which required the central government to regulate the operation. of the capital Wide powers have been given to the Designated Officer i.e. LG. This marks a change in strategy from Saxena’s predecessor, Anil Baijal.
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