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Former J&K IAS officer joins Cong, vows to strengthen 'secular ethos'

Jammu, Mar 27 (PTI) Retired senior IAS officer Vinod Koul, instrumental in the creation of 659 new administrative units in Jammu and Kashmir during the Omar Abdullah regime, joined the Congress on Wednesday.Son of former Congress minister Manohar Nath Koul, a prominent politician from south Kashmir, the 62-year-old former bureaucrat joined the party in the presence of Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) chief Gulam Ahmed Mir."I have joined Congress party at a function in Srinagar today. It was a home coming, in a way, for me as I belong to a family connected with the Congress party in Jammu and Kashmir," Kaul told PTI. The former relief commissioner of the state, Koul said he wanted to strengthen the secular forces in Jammu and Kashmir and continue the legacy of his father."If at all I wanted to join politics, it was only Congress. So, I commenced the journey following in the footsteps of my father," Kaul said, adding that his joining the Congress was a homecoming.Koul, who attained superannuation in 2017, served as administrative secretary of different departments including revenue, technical education, youth services and sports, animal husbandry among others.As commissioner/secretary of the state's revenue department, Kaul was the brains behind the expansion of the administrative units to reach the state's grass-root level under the National Conference government back in 2014. As many as 659 new administrative units including 46 sub divisions, 135 tehsils, 177 Community Development (CD) Blocks and 301 Niabats across the state were approved by the government.He was widely appreciated by the state's political leadership for his proactive role in gearing up the state machinery for relief and rescue works after the devastating floods that hit Kashmir in 2014. Koul, who belongs to Vessu hamlet of Anantnag district, was also the architect of the Rs 44,000-crore memorandum submitted by the NC-Congress regime to the Union government for rehabilitation of the flood victims.His father represented Devsar and Shangus segments in the state assembly and was a two-time Congress minister in Jammu and Kashmir. The family was considered to close to the Nehru-Gandhi clan, particularly former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. PTI AB RHL