The appointment of Manoj Soni as the new chairperson of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has been met with objections from academicians and opposition politicians alike as he shares close ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
In the past, Soni had served as the vice-chancellor of the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Gujarat’s Vadodra and during his tenure, members of the BJP and RSS are though to have had inordinate influence in the university’s function.
Moreover, Soni has long-since been linked to the Swaminarayan sect in Gujarat, which made him a ‘nishkarma karmayogi‘ (literally ‘selfless worker’; monk) in 2020.
The UPSC, among other things, is responsible for the recruitment of officers of various All India Services (AIS), have drawn objections form academicians and opposition politics alike. The UPSC chairpersons who have preceded Soni have generally been former officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and have had administrative or academic experience, casting further doubts on Soni’s appointment.
The Wire‘s Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar takes a deeper look into Soni’s appointment, the role of the UPSC and the broader implications of the move.