Is the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) dragging its feet on its audit reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal to save the Modi sarkar some blushes before the general elections? Several retired bureaucrats seem to think so and have written to the CAG Rajiv Mehrishi expressing concerns over the delay.
According to sources, among the signatories to the letter are former IPS officer and ex-DGP of Punjab Julio Ribeiro, former IAS officer turned social activist Aruna Roy, former Pune Police commissioner Meeran Borwankar, former CEO of Prasar Bharti Jawahar Sircar, former envoy to Italy K.P. Fabian, senior bureaucrat V. Ramani, and many officers from Central and all India services. They have urged the CAG to table the reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal in the winter session of Parliament. However, some whispers suggest that the CAG will release the Rafale report in December, but officially there is no clarity on when the reports will actually be released.
Previous audit reports of the CAG have vastly influenced public perception of the government, hence the growing concern about the CAG’s silence on these issues. The general election, after all, is barely six months away now.
For better governance
In a move to take governance closer to the public, but one that may raise questions on federalism, the Modi sarkar is planning to set up Central secretariats in all state capitals to house its offices. These secretariats will ensure ease of business for the public and faster interaction between departments and ministries.
Usually, state governments have their own secretariats where offices of different departments are housed, but there is no centralised space for Central government offices in the states. The plan is to develop dedicated zones in state capitals to house Central government offices along the lines of the Central Secretariat and the CGO complex in Delhi.
According to sources, the government is moving with speed on the proposal. After the discussion in the Cabinet, a formal proposal was sent by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to the central public works department (CPWD), which has been entrusted with identifying land that can be used. The director-general of the CPWD, Prabhakar Singh, has now sought details from zonal officials about the requirement of available land for office space with it.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s government has been stern with its babus, penalising those who overstay in their government accommodation. But the rule is not binding for all babus, it appears. It has emerged that the Fadnavis sarkar has been benevolent to 15 bureaucrats, including 12 IAS and three IPS officers, who have been allowed to flout the rule imposed on their peers.
Some senior babus including IPS officer Rashmi Shukla and Surendra Bagade have been posted out of the government but allowed to retain their accommodation. Similarly, Vinit Agarwal, Baldev Singh and Sanjay Chahande have been allowed to retain their official residences even though they are on Central deputation. Some officers like J.P. Dange and V. Giriraj have not vacated their residences even after retirement. Others like K.P. Bakshi and Dilip Jadav have been reappointed after retirement and therefore allowed to retain their official residences.
Not surprisingly, by playing “favourites” it has caused much heartburn and resentment within the state babu circles. In the past four years, sources say, while the Fadnavis government has amended rules to levy stiff penalty on those not vacating the allotted flats after the period ends, it has also gone out on a limb to overlook the transgressions by those considered close to the powers that be....