Thursday, November 30, 2023

Monday Mirchi: Apna time aayega

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The opening lines of the lyrics of the Gully Boy song ‘Apna time aayega’ read: “Kaun bola mujhse naa ho payega? Kaun bola? Kaun bola? Apna time aayega”, suggesting that hope springs eternal in the human breast, regardless of the circumstances. Come elections, the Election Commission becomes the super administrator for a specific period while conducting the elections professedly in a free and fair manner. However, this period under the EC’s hawk-eyed watch is marked by heartburn among bureaucrats who believe, or claim, they are apolitical in the discharge of their functions, irrespective of the charges levelled against them by ruling or opposition parties. Some of the senior bureaucrats of Telangana are cut up with the super administrator’s diktat. For, as per the EC’s direction, the state government had completed the transfers of bureaucrats before the announcement of the election schedule. As per the Model Code of Conduct, the state government cannot transfer any official after the announcement of the election schedule. But the EC can transfer any officer. So, the EC recently transferred more than 20 officers, including senior IAS and IPS officials. Bureaucratic circles are abuzz with questions concerning the basis of which the EC had ordered transfer of these officers. They want to know how the EC could determine so quickly that they would work in favour of the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi. A senior officer, feeling offended, commented: “When the Election Commission acts as per the directions of the central government, what right does it have to transfer officials in poll-bound states on the presumption that they might work in favour of the ruling party?” His punchline was quite illuminating: “Naam ke vaaste the Election Commission is an independent body; it works as per the wishes of the central government, whichever be the party in power. Everyone knows this. The Election Commission can show its power for some days only. After that, it will be like a de-fanged snake”.

Too big for their boots?

The transfers effected at the behest of the Election Commission of India in Telangana also exposed that at least some of the shifted officials were deemed to be too big for their boots. Aside from murmurs that the Chief Secretary could not convince the EC, a little bird told us that, when the EC raised a query about non-cadre officers being posted as SPs, the CS reportedly conceded that the administration lacked enough experienced cadre officers. The EC, reportedly shocked at her response, sought to know if the state does not have enough officers. No wonder, the Chief Secretary herself was asked to give up her post of Principal Secretary Commercial Taxes. The whispers in the corridors of power are that the EC, by asking her to give up her post, had cast doubts on her capabilities.

Juniors see poetic justice

Senior officials may detest the ECI-mandated transfers, but some junior officers heave a sigh of relief and see poetic justice in the whole scheme of things. This is especially true in the case of Nirmal where junior officer Karnati Varun Reddy (2019 batch) was posted as Collector apparently based on his community, which matches with that of the district minister. It is a different matter that his posting happened, bypassing officers of three batches in the process. The ECI posting gave chance to two officers, bandied about as ‘efficient’, as Collectors, viz. Ashish Sangwan and Gowtham Potru. Ironically, these two officers had been ignored by the ‘normal’ administration.

IAS officer on IT radar

Hardly anyone in bureaucratic circles was surprised when Amoy Kumar was shifted again. The bureaucrat had been transferred as Collector only in and around Hyderabad district. A little bird told yours truly that Income Tax officials reportedly had sought leads on the bureaucrat, who is currently without any posting. That apart, even the leader of an opposition party had expressed his displeasure with the bureaucrat for giving a miss to protocol and avoiding his calls. It would be interesting to watch the career graph of this babu under IT lens.

From best to worst in nine years

C V Anand, among those officials who have been transferred pursuant to the orders of the EC, has the unique record of being awarded and denigrated by the constitutional body in a span of just nine years. For newbies, Anand, while serving as Cyberabad Police Commissioner, was selected by the ECI for ‘National Special Award for Best Electoral Practices 2014’. The award was in recognition of his work in ‘Expenditure Monitoring and Tackling Money Power’ during the 2014 General Elections. The black humour in the corridors of power is that Anand hogging the limelight on social media platforms did not go down well with ECI.

– Yours truly

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