Taming of pliable bureaucracy!
Posted February 23, 2014on:
How Shivraj Singh Chouhan manipulated the higher echelons of bureaucracy is no less interesting than his political manipulation to become chief minister. He did not have a day’s experience of government work when he became the chief minister and he had to handle the bureaucracy, then headed by Vijay Singh. An opportunity again came his way which he grabbed. An IAS officer, S R Mohanty, was among over three dozen persons against whom the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the State police had registered an FIR for allegedly misappropriating funds amounting to over Rs 700 crore. Mohanty had moved the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking quashing of the FIR against him and the General Administration Department (GAD) of the State government had issued a favourable certificate to help him in the High Court.
Chouhan was “angry” that the government should help a corruption-accused officer. Blaming it on Vijay Singh, he replaced him with Rakesh Sahni as the chief secretary by superseding over half a dozen IAS officers senior to him. Sahni was also allowed to continue as chairman of the State Electricity Board which he then was. If Vijay Singh was a no-nonsense IAS officer, Sahni never troubled his conscience by trivialities like professional ethics. Vijay Singh was sent to Gwalior as chairman of the Revenue Board. From there he went on deputation to the Centre and retired as Defence Secretary.
Chouhan was, in fact, so “angry” at the help provided to corruption-accused S R Mohanty that he publicly vowed not to spare Mohanty and ensure that investigation against Mohanty was resumed soon and the “corrupt officer” was sent to jail at the earliest. Mohanty was once a blue-eyed boy of then chief minister Digvijaya Singh and had acquired expertise in extra-curricular assignments. If he could be useful to Digvijaya Singh, why not to Chouhan? Mohanty today stands promoted in the scale of Secretary, and is considered close to both Chouhan and his wife Sadhna Singh, who takes too much interest in money-related administrative affairs. Chouhan has not allowed the investigation against Mohanty to progress in spite of the Supreme Court directions.
Sahni, as chief secretary-cum-chairman of the State Electricity Board was at his disposal when Chouhan contested the Budhni by-election to enter the Assembly because he was a member of Lok Sabha when he became the chief minister. A massive misuse of the government machinery was made to help Chouhan in the by-election, inviting the wrath of the Election Commission. Sahni ensured 24-hour power supply in Budhni constituency villages while the entire State was suffering from acute power crisis. Perhaps for the first time the Election Commission was constrained to remove the Returning Officer a few days before polling for openly helping Chouhan’s prospects. The pliant IAS officer was duly rewarded by Chouhan by giving him a prize post as soon as the code of conduct period was over.
The blatant misuse of the government machinery was the major ground in the well-documented election petition moved against Chouhan’s election by the defeated Congress candidate, Rajkumar Patel, in the MP High Court. Those who had gone through the petition were certain that not only Chouhan’s election was likely to be declared null and void but some IAS officers might also come in for censure by the High Court. Chouhan did not contest the petition in the High Court, but only “on the ground”. Rajkumar Patel did not appear for the recording of his statement in spite of repeated notices from the High Court. The petition was dismissed in default.