Hot to handle
The exodus of babus from West Bengal shows no sign of abating. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has recently let go of two senior bureaucrats, who like many of their colleagues earlier have opted for central deputation. Though Ms Banerjee had earlier turned down requests from IAS officers seeking central transfers, she seems to have relaxed her policy in recent weeks. Sources say that the Chief Minister is allowing those babus to leave who apparently she does not get along with. The two babus are Environment Secretary R.P.S. Kahlon, who has been named Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust, and Subrata Gupta who has become the Jute Commissioner. Both Kahlon and Gupta, sources say, did not enjoy Banerjee’s confidence because they were reluctant to obey her diktats. Just a few weeks ago, Ms Banerjee had let go of another senior babu Anil Aggarwal and brought in her nominee Sanjay Mitra as Additional Chief Secretary. Now we know why West Bengal faces an acute shortage of IAS officers.
This is how politics casts its shadow on matters bureaucratic. To ensure that the investigations into the Coalgate scam do not reach the State, the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh Government has instructed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to keep all India service officers out of its purview. In a notice issued by the State Government, soon after the CBI registered its third preliminary enquiry in connection with its Coalgate investigations.
According to Additional Chief Secretary I.S. Dani, following this order the agency cannot question babus without first seeking the consent of the State Government. He claims the order is routine, but many believe it is anything but that!
Signs of life
During Mayawati’s tenure as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, the State IAS Officers Association was practically defunct. It’s no secret that the former Chief Minister’s relations with her babus were distant and frosty. Her transfer policy had played havoc with the IAS biradari, sources say, with dozens of babus transferred or suspended for the flimsiest of reasons. She had even denied permission to babus wishing to host the annual IAS Association Service Week.
But there are signs that the babus are regrouping now that the BSP raj has become a faded memory. Under Samjawadi Party leader and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s Government, sources say that the babus have revived the association. Recently a meeting of the body was convened and new officebearers were named. They include senior babus like Alok Ranjan, P.S. Sharma, Kaushalraj Sharma and Bhuvnesh Kumar. A formal meeting of the association is likely to be held next month.