Ashok Gehlot’s warning creates ripples in Rajasthan bureaucracy
Former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot warned the Rajasthan bureaucracy that if Congress comes back to power, it would probe any misuse of government funds for political purposes
Nothing is going right for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Rajasthan. Both the party and the government are facing the wrath of the people. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s Gaurav Yatra has failed to arouse the public’s interest of the people, evidenced by the dwindling crowd at the Gaurav yatra rallies. The Rajasthan High Court order compelling the state government not to organise any government function during the course of the yatra, made it an even more lacklustre affair as the government machinery could not be used to make the BJP yatra a success.
Under CM Raje, the state government is reportedly run by bureaucrats, of which some 17 have been identified as ‘loyal’ to the Chief Minister. These 17 babus are running the government, led by the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Tanmay Kumar, who is said to be all powerful and ruling the bureaucracy with an iron hand.
In this context, two time former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot caused ripples in the state bureaucracy when he openly alleged rampant corruption in the administration and by name accused Tanmay Kumar of ruling the state for promoting corruption. Gehlot took on Kumar by the horns and accused him of forcing bureaucrats to pass bills of several crore rupees.
Reportedly, last month the Chief Minister invited some 19 select IAS officers, considered loyal to Raje, to a feast. Those who were sticklers for the rules were left out. This ‘at home’ by the Chief Minister was sort of a “ thanksgiving” in which an effort was made to separate the loyalists from those who did not obey orders
Gehlot fired off a letter addressed to Rajasthan Chief Secretary DB Gupta that shook the bureaucracy, who have now become very cautious as Gehlot had warned them that if the Congress comes back to power, it would probe any misuse of government funds for political purposes and the guilty would be punished.
Gehlot in his letter to Gupta reminded him that when the Congress was in power and CK Matthew was the Chief Secretary, Matthew opted to go on leave just before the previous assembly election in 2013, when then Opposition leader Vasundhara Raje levelled charges against Matthew of favouring the Congress government in issues relating to food security under the National Food Security Act. Matthew resumed duty only after the election was over.
Gehlot accused the Vasundhara Raje government of misusing state government funds for holding political rallies. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited to address the beneficiaries of the state government’s various welfare scheme, it was dubbed as a state government function, to which Governor Kalyan Singh was also invited. But it turned out to be a farce as a large number of BJP workers also joined the function and used the forum to make a state government function a political party function. Crores of government funds were used for this function which was actually a BJP show. Gehlot asked the Chief Secretary to use his office to ensure that no such government function be used for political purposes.
Gehlot has also questioned the announcement of the Vasundhara Raje government under which the beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act would be given free mobile phones. Gehlot alleged that the funds for food security were being misused for providing mobile phones to beneficiaries when there were no prior budgetary provisions, just to buy votes.
He further accused the state government of giving work contracts to favoured contractors in work relating to mines and public health engineering department in violation of rules, and alleged that the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Tanmay Kumar was handling these contracts.
Gehlot alleged that large-scale contracts for holding the mega show Resurgent Rajasthan were given to several event management companies at exorbitant costs. Some family members of bureaucrats were given contracts, alleged Gehlot. Later, when the question of payments to these event management companies arose, large scale loopholes were discovered and some bureaucrats refused to sign the bills for payment
Gehlot said in the name of inviting investments in the state, the Resurgent Rajasthan event was organised at Jaipur in which large-scale contracts for holding the mega show were given to several event management companies at exorbitant costs. Some family members of bureaucrats were given contracts, alleged Gehlot. Later, when the question of payments to these event management companies arose, large scale loopholes were discovered and some bureaucrats refused to sign the bills for payment. The state government’s finance department referred the issue for the state cabinet to decide, which formed a subcommittee to deal with the issue.
Reportedly, last month the Chief Minister invited select IAS officers for a party in which some 19 IAS officers, who were loyal to the Chief Minister and who obeyed her orders were treated to a feast. Those who were sticklers for the rules were left out. This ‘at home' by the Chief Minister was sort of a “ thanksgiving” in which an effort was made to separate the loyalists from those who did not obey orders.
These are the officers who could be subject to a probe if the Congress government come to power. Gehlot’s forewarning had a magical effect on the lower bureaucracy and they have become extra cautious in issuing orders, and this has led to a stalemate in the state secretariat at the fag end of Raje’s tenure.