Here’s another scam probe that seems to be going nowhere. The formidable Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigating the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh is unable to make much headway in its inquiries, with its requests for related documents and files being stonewalled by senior bureaucrats. Sources say that the CBI has repeatedly sought documents relating to the examination for recruitment of transport constables in 2012, but the transport babus have refused to cooperate, even with the Central agency. However, state transport commissioner S. Srivastava denies these reports, claiming that all documents sought by the agency have been provided.
But the CBI team is not giving up. Apparently, a senior CBI officer monitoring the probe, undoubtedly with the blessings of his superiors in Delhi, has now decided to turn the screws on the state babus. Reportedly, the agency has decided to summon transport officers or even file cases against them for non-cooperation. That should, hopefully, bring these recalcitrant babus around. But don’t bet on it. In the states more than ever, it is local political dynamics that set the pace.
The cost of going
The government’s crackdown on absent without leave (AWOL) babus continues. The latest to join the club of babus “deemed to have resigned” is Renuka Chidambaram, a Karnataka cadre 1985-batch Indian Administrative Service officer, who had been absent without official leave for almost three years! While previous governments at the Centre had either ignored or moved too slowly to “discipline” the vagrants, the Modi sarkar has taken a firm line.
It has by now become a trend among the IAS to get trained abroad, seek lucrative international assignments and refuse to return to India once their tenure is over. Ms Chidambaram has been working at the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and was earlier on a similar assignment in Sudan on deputation.
To stem this trend of babus overstaying on their foreign assignments, the government last year issued guidelines stating that Central government officers, after the sanctioned period of foreign deputation, leave or study leave, will have to return within a month or else face “disciplinary” action. That’s what has happened in this case, too.
Khemka’s lonely battle continues
Achche din continue to play hide and seek with Haryana-cadre IAS officer Ashok Khemka. The much harassed and harried whistleblower continues to wage a lonely battle for survival in the civil service, irrespective of which party is in the government — the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party. During the Congress administration, Mr Khemka had the dubious record of being one of the most transferred IAS officers in the history of the service, for upsetting his political masters with his anti-corruption stance. He hit the national headlines for cancelling a multi-crore land deal involving Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra.
If he hoped that his lot would improve with the coming of the Modi sarkar, the babu has been disappointed. He was refused Central deputation and continues to hold, in his own words, “a lowly post” despite being promoted to principal secretary. But the babu is still awaiting a suitable posting and has publicly stated his displeasure. However, sources say that the delay is due to the top-heavy hierarchy of the Haryana bureaucracy, which makes movements at the top slower. But Mr Khemka apparently is not ready to buy this explanation.