The Dread of Didi

Ma­mata in­sists state cadre of­fi­cers main­tain an arm’s length re­la­tion­ship with the Cen­tre

India Today - - STATES - By Romita Datta

IAS of­fi­cer Puneet Ya­dav’s fer­vent Face­book posts last month about his in­abil­ity to at­tend to his 80-plus ail­ing par­ents in Agra have put the Ma­mata Banerjee govern­ment in a bit of a spot. The ev­i­dently ha­rassed West Ben­gal cadre of­fi­cer’s emo­tional out­burst has ex­posed an em­bar­rass­ing truth—the pall of fear shad­ow­ing the state’s civil bu­reau­cracy, more specif­i­cally of­fi­cers of the cen­tral ad­min­is­tra­tive and po­lice ser­vices.

Be­lieve it or not, un­der ‘Didi’s rule’, state cadre of­fi­cers seek­ing cen­tral dep­u­ta­tions are frowned upon. IAS and IPS of­fi­cers are also ac­tively dis­cour­aged from putting such re­quests in writ­ing. At best, they can make ver­bal re­quests to the chief sec­re­tary.

Nearly a dozen such re­quests have been pend­ing for over a year de­spite the DoPT (the cen­tral govern­ment’s de­part­ment of per­son­nel and train­ing) re­peat­edly ask­ing the state to fill its por­tion of the cen­tral re­serve. At present, against the sanc­tioned 78, there are just seven West Ben­gal of­fi­cers on cen­tral dep­u­ta­tion. “The MoS in charge of DoPT, Ji­ten­dra Singh, had also writ­ten a let­ter on this. In 2011, we had 37-38 of­fi­cers of the West Ben­gal cadre at the Cen­tre. Now it’s down to seven,” says the com­mis­sioner of home P&AR (per­son­nel and ad­min­is­tra­tive reforms) de­part­ment, Mezhba-ul Haque. A se­nior state govern­ment of­fi­cer says

Didi is re­luc­tant to send of­fi­cers, fear­ing they would be in­flu­enced by the Cen­tre. “It’s also in line with her de­ci­sion not to co­op­er­ate with Delhi,” he says.

Of­fi­cially, though, Ma­mata points to the short­age of of­fi­cers in the state: “We have 276 IAS of­fi­cers against a sanc­tioned strength of 359, and 274 IPS of­fi­cers against 347,” she says. And she’s just as fiercely ‘pos­ses­sive’ about state cadre of­fi­cers. Ad­dress­ing the WB Civil Ser­vice of­fi­cers last De­cem­ber, Ma­mata did not mince her words: “Your ca­reer be­gins in the state and will end here.”

Even train­ing pro­grammes out­side the state for IAS and IPS pro­ba­tion­ers are viewed as an at­tempt to ‘brain­wash’ young of­fi­cers. Dub­bing this as con­trary to the spirit of ‘co­op­er­a­tive fed­er­al­ism’, the CM re­fused to give post­ings for eight months to eight of­fi­cers

who had re­turned from a three­month train­ing in Delhi. The 2013 IAS cadre from West Ben­gal—in­clud­ing the eight of­fi­cers whose post­ings were put on hold—had re­turned from train­ing in Novem­ber 2015. They were put on ‘wait­ing’ for eight months and given SDO post­ings only af­ter the 2016 as­sem­bly elec­tions. Sources say the CM felt that of­fi­cers trained in Delhi might be used to up­set her in the polls. “The SDO of Con­tai (South), where the BJP in­creased its vote share by 22 per cent in the by­elec­tions, was im­me­di­ately re­moved af­ter the poll re­sults,” says an of­fi­cer on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Not only this, the CM has asked of­fi­cers not to share any doc­u­ments with the Cen­tre, un­less she specif­i­cally clears them. Even the vis­its of state of­fi­cers to Delhi for meet­ings have been re­stricted.

Mean­while, Ya­dav has been rep­ri­manded by the chief sec­re­tary for go­ing pub­lic with his prob­lems. But the young of­fi­cer isn’t back­ing down. Last week, af­ter the Dar­jeel­ing mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion re­sults were an­nounced, he con­grat­u­lated the peo­ple for “free and fair polls”. In­ci­den­tally, in the May 17 elec­tion, 31 of the 32 mu­nic­i­pal­ity seats in Dar­jeel­ing mu­nic­i­pal­ity went to the BJP-Gorkha Jana­mukti Mor­cha al­liance. The TMC got just one seat.

Il­lus­tra­tion by ANUP RAY

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