Opinion Op Ed 15 Jan 2017 Dilli Ka Babu: A sto ...
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Dilli Ka Babu: A storm brewing in West Bengal

Published Jan 15, 2017, 2:01 am IST
Updated Jan 15, 2017, 7:26 am IST
Mamata Banerjee
 Mamata Banerjee

In recent months, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been one of the very few Opposition chief ministers to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Narendra Modi government at the Centre. This bitter feud has spilled into many areas, and most recently, in the functioning of the Tea Board. Specifically, it revolves around the post of deputy chairman of the board.

The post of deputy chairman is considered important in terms of promoting the tea industry as he is the executive head of the body. Earlier, the chairman used to be the executive head of the Tea Board, but the Centre amended rules in October last year, making the deputy chairman the executive head.

The issue arose due to the reluctance of the chief minister to release state cadre officer Arnab Roy, a 1991-batch IAS officer, for the post. Sources say she was miffed at the Centre’s decision that made the chairman’s post non-executive in order to appoint a political person. Clearly, she does not want a state cadre officer to work with a BJP appointee at the board.

Now the Centre has indicated that if Mr Roy is not made available for the post of deputy chairman, it may decide not to consider West Bengal cadre IAS officer for the post. That would not augur well for the state’s interests in the tea industry.

Vigilance woes in Kerala

Though the mass leave threat by Kerala’s IAS officers has been dropped for the moment, the babus’ face-off with the Left Democratic Front government continues. The babus have been protesting a series of corruption cases lodged against some senior officers by the IPS head of state vigilance department Jacob Thomas.

The IAS officers claim that they are being “victimised” by Mr Thomas, who they accuse of “abusing his powers”. Resentment against Mr Thomas stirred when he sought action against three bureaucrats late last year. But the recent threat of mass protest was triggered by the vigilance department’s decision to make Paul Antony, additional chief secretary (industries), a co-accused in a corruption case against former industries minister E.P. Jayarajan.

But sources say that Mr Thomas, a 1985-batch IPS officer known as an anti-corruption crusader, was chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s choice for the vigilance director’s post after his government assumed power last May. So opinions on the issue are clearly divided along political lines. But so long as Mr Thomas has the CM’s back, the vigilance probes are likely to continue.

An embarrassing slip-up

A bureaucratic faux pas has left the Rajasthan government embarrassed. The slip-up has led to two Indian Police Service officers of inspector general rank given promotion while six Indian Administrative Service officers have been overlooked, despite sharing the same date of joining.

Sources say that the oversight happened because the IPS officers Sanjay Agrawal and Hemant Priyadarshy are from the 1992 batch, but joined service a year later. This coincided with the date when the six IAS officers — Tanmay Kumar, Akhil Arora, Alok, Aparna Arora, Shikhar Agrawal and Sandeep Verma — also joined. Ideally, the promotions should have been based on the date of joining, but this was overlooked.

Now the department of personnel is working to rectify the error that led to two IPS officers superseding six IAS officers in rank. Sources add that the government has two options — either roll back the promotion to the IPS officers or promote the six IAS officers to the rank of principal secretary. Indications are that the government is likely to go for the second option.

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