New Delhi: Often getting bad press, the Home Ministry on Friday appointed a senior IAS officer as its spokesperson in an apparent bid to shore up its image.
Nirmaljeet Singh Kalsi, a 1984-batch Punjab cadre IAS officer, currently serving as Joint Secretary in the MHA, has been given the additional charge of spokesperson of the Ministry, which, so far, had only an Indian Information Service officer.
The decision has been taken at a high-level meeting chaired by the Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, sources said.
The Ministry, which boasted of a media-savvy Secretary GK Pillai only two years ago, has been at the receiving end of the press for quite some time now.
The MHA was seen fumbling in the aftermath of the December 16 Delhi gang-rape incident and hanging of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru and subsequent issues.
The appointment of Kalsi also comes in the wake of bad publicity received by the Ministry over goof-ups by Shinde on several occasions in the recent past, including in the Lok Sabha yesterday when he read out twice a part of his statement on the terrorist attack in Srinagar.
A fortnight ago, the media wing of the Ministry circulated a statement of Shinde made in Parliament over the Bhandara rape incident where he took the names of the victims. Even though the names were expunged from the proceedings, the statement with the names was circulated to the press.
Again, journalists had to complain to the Home Minister and senior officials of the Press Information Bureau earlier this week when those covering the Home Ministry were physically removed for "loitering" in its corridors.