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From IAS Officer to Congress Powerhouse: Sasikant Senthil’s Rise to the National Stage

Former IAS officer Sasikant Senthil is a 2009 batch officer from Karnataka cadre He resigned from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in September 2019 To learn more about his journey, click on the YouTube link given in the article
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First he delivered Karnataka to Congress. Then he managed Telangana. Now he is not only managing Congress’s national election war room, but he is also contesting himself as Congress candidate from Tiruvallur, the northern most constituency in Tamil Nadu. The management comes easy to him as he has been an IAS officer of Karnataka cadre, 2009 batch.

He was two batches senior to IPS officer K Annamalai, also of Karnataka cadre. Annamalai is now Tamil Nadu state BJP president and like Senthil, he is contesting from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. Senthil, unlike Annamalai, is very quiet and low-profile person.

Senthil was born on June 15, 1985 in Bangalore Senthil to Justice P. Shanmugam, a retired District Judge and Mrs. Ambica Shanmugham, a retired Central Government officer. He graduated in electronics from the Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli. He worked in a Software Company called Polaris Inc. and later, he quit his job to pursue civil services.

From 2009 through 2012, he served as Assistant Commissioner in Bellamy district. He served for two terms as Chief Executive Officer of Shimoga Zilla Panchayat. He served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Chitradurga District and later at Raichur District.

His stint as the Raichur DC during 2013-14 also paid dividends for the Congress as he succeeded in drawing some of the key local leaders into the party. He also played a role in bringing several SC (left) leaders into the Congress fold from the BJP.

Senthil was appointed as the Director in the Department of Mines and Geology, to be shifted soon as the Deputy Commissioner of Dakshin Kannada District. As a Deputy Commissioner, he managed communal conflicts efficiently and worked on the sand mafia.

His administration succeeded in cutting the funds provided to religious extremism organizations. His held discussions with members of various religious communities to instil self-confidence.  There were 42 cases and 6 instances of communal violences at South Kannada in 2017. It fell to 3 cases and 3 instances of communal conflagration in 2018.

Despite his tough stand against right-wing elements, Senthil’s stint as the Dakshina Kannada DC from June 2017 to Sep 2019 was appreciated by a section of the BJP workers for his pro-people moves and his stern action against the nexus of sand mafia and their political masters. His handling of floods earned him respect among people, with frequent school holidays announced by him during the rains made children fond of him.

He resigned from the IAS in September 2019 when he was District Collector of Dakshin Kannada district.  He then said it was “unethical” for him to continue in his line of duty as a civil servant in the government when the fundamental building blocks of our diverse democracy were being compromised in an unprecedented manner.

“I also feel strongly that the coming days will present extremely difficult challenges to the basic fabric of our nation and I would be better off outside the IAS to continue with my work at making life better for all,” he said.

Subsequently, Senthil, who was a staunch critic of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) / National Register of Citizens (NRC) proposal, travelled across the country to interact with people and activists protesting against them.

In November 2020, Senthil, joined the Congress in the presence of senior Tamil Nadu party leader KS Alagiri and then AICC general secretary Dinesh Gundu Rao. He said he has always worked for the welfare of the people and will continue to do so. “I left the civil service in search of a method to stem the totalitarian attack on the country I dearly loves”, he said.

Initially, Senthil worked with the Congress’s training vertical. In the 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, he worked at the party’s war room in Chennai. As the party was impressed by his work, he was entrusted with the task of liaising between Rahul Gandhi and civil society members during the three-week Karnataka leg of his Bharat Joda Yatra in September-October. This brought him close to Rahul.

The Congress appointed Senthil the head of its Karnataka war room keeping in view his “deep insight” into its politics. Senthil and his team worked day and night to devise the campaigns and social media strategies for the Congress. He conceptualized campaigns like “40% commission sarkar ” & “PayCM” against the then chief minister Basavaraj Bommai of BJP in Karnataka. These campaigns soon became part of a not only statewide poll discourse but found traction at national level. His team worked not only to counter BJP’s polarising narrative but also formedits own narratives.

Senthil had a strong team of about 50 members, some of whom came from Chennai and Nagpur. They also worked to help the Congress formulate its statements and choose places for its events and rallies.

Following his success in Karnataka state Assembly elections in March 2023, he was also made in charge of Congress campaign in Telangana Assembly elections in October-November last year. Here too he was successful in wresting the state from Telangana Rashtra Party. In January this year, he was appointed Chairman of Congress’s Central war room in New Delhi for Lok Sabha elections.

Senthil has been active socially. He has built a library in his native village in Tamil Nadu with his salary and helped many poor students in his native village to get education. “I have been an activist trying to be a voice for the poor, less privileged and most marginalised in the society all through my life, wherever I was and would continue the same”, he says. Despite his busy political engagements, he has consistently been mentoring the UPSC aspirants.


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