New Delhi: The Union government Tuesday picked 1984-batch IAS officer Anup Chandra Pandey, the former chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh, as an election commissioner, taking the Election Commission of India to its full strength.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra and Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar are the other two members of the poll panel, which saw a vacancy after CEC Sunil Arora demitted office in April this year.
In a notification issued late Tuesday, the Union law ministry’s legislative department said, “…the President is pleased to appoint Shri Anup Chandra Pandey, IAS (Retd.) (UP: 1984) as the Election Commissioner with effect from the date he assumes the office.”
In 2018, Pandey had been handpicked by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to become the state’s chief secretary in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The move came at a time when Adityanath was believed to not have a tight grip on the administration — Pandey’s predecessor Rajiv Kumar was not considered Adityanath’s choice for the top post in the state — and the move signalled a shift from that.
Pandey retired from the civil services in August 2019.
Pandey’s LinkedIN profile notes the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as a “very big achievement”. “The peaceful, transparent & incident-free conduct of Lok Sabha elections 2019, where tensions between various stakeholders were very high as certainly a very big achievement,” it says.
As election commissioner, the first assembly election under his watch will incidentally be that of Uttar Pradesh, his home cadre, along with Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand in 2022.
Key executor behind several of Yogi govt’s flagship schemes
Before being elevated to the top post in UP, Pandey had served as the infrastructure and industrial development commissioner in 2018 at the time of the Uttar Pradesh Investors Summit-2018, which saw businessmen and groups like Anand Mahindra, the TATA Group, Essel Group, Gautam Adani, Kumar Mangalam Birla and Mukesh Ambani come to UP for the first time.
Prior to this, in 2017, Pandey was the man who had managed Yogi’s flagship crop loan waiver initiative, which led to a flurry of loan waiver schemes across the country. It was during this time that Pandey is believed to have earned Adityanath’s trust, according to sources.
Pandey’s LinkedIN profile also says he was “instrumental” in the launch of the “ambitious One District, One Product” scheme in UP, which is now being scaled up at the national level by the NITI Aayog.
In addition to the crop loan waiver and the investor’s summit, Pandey piloted events such as the Kumbh Mela and the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the flagship event of the Ministry of External Affairs that is meant to be a platform to engage and connect with overseas Indians.