Kharge writes to PM expressing concern over 'politicisation' of bureaucracy
Kharge objected to the government order that, he claimed, stated that senior officers of ranks as high as joint secretary, director and deputy secretary are to be deployed as "Rath Prabharis"
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that the government's recent orders asking officials to "showcase" the achievements of the last nine years would lead to "politicisation" of the bureaucracy and demanded their withdrawal.
In his letter, Kharge objected to the government order issued on October 18 that, he claimed, stated that senior officers of ranks as high as joint secretary, director and deputy secretary are to be deployed to all 765 districts of India as "Rath Prabharis" to "showcase achievements of the last nine years of Government of India".
He also referred to another order of the Ministry of Defence on October 9, 2023, directing soldiers on annual leave to spend time in promoting government schemes, making them "soldier-ambassadors".
"It is no coincidence that the last nine years correspond to your tenure in office. This (order) is of grave concern for multiple reasons," Kharge said, alleging that senior officers are being deputed for "marketing activity" of the incumbent government.
"It is a clear violation of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, which directs that no government servant shall take part in any political activity.
"While it is acceptable for government officers to disseminate information, to make them 'celebrate' and 'showcase' achievements blatantly turns them into political workers of the ruling party.
"The fact that only 'achievements' of the last nine years are being considered, gives away the fact that this is a transparently political order in the run-up to the five state elections and the general elections of 2024," the Congress chief alleged.
He said if senior officers of departments are being deputed for "marketing activity" of the current government, the governance of the country will grind to a halt for the next six months.
"In view of protecting our democracy and our Constitution, it is imperative that the above orders are withdrawn immediately," Kharge told the prime minister.
"For the Modi Government, all agencies, institutions, arms, wings, and departments of the government are now officially 'Pracharaks'," he alleged in a post on X.
"In view of protecting our democracy and our Constitution, it is imperative that the orders which would lead to the politicising of Bureaucracy and our Armed Forces must be withdrawn immediately," Kharge also said in his post while sharing the letter.
Expressing surprise at the Congress' objections, BJP chief J P Nadda hit back at the opposition party, saying public service delivery may be an "alien concept" for it as its only interest is to keep "the poor in poverty".
"It baffles me to see the Congress party has an issue with public servants reaching the grassroots to ensure saturation of schemes," Nadda said in a post on X, asking, "If this not the basic tenet of governance, what is?" AICC general secretary Jairam Ramesh also shared Kharge's letter on X.
"Mallikarjun Kharge-ji, Congress President, has just written to the PM on the blatant politicisation taking place of civil servants and soldiers who must, at all times, be kept independent and non-political," he said.
Kharge, who is also the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, said he is writing on a matter of great public importance which is of concern not just to the INDIA parties but also to people at large.
"This has to do with the gross misuse of government machinery taking place in the country today in service of the ruling political party," he also said.
He also referred to another order of the Ministry of Defence on October 9, 2023, directing soldiers on annual leave to spend time on promoting government schemes, making them "soldier-ambassadors".
"The Army Training Command, which should be focused on preparing our jawans to defend the nation, is busy preparing scripts and training manuals on how to promote government schemes," he said.
Kharge, in his letter, said that it is of utmost importance in a democracy that the Armed Forces are kept out of politics.
"The loyalty of every jawan is to the nation and the Constitution. To force our soldiers to become marketing agents of government schemes is a dangerous step towards politicization of the Armed Forces," he stated.
Furthermore, he said that after many months or years of difficult service to the nation, jawans deserve complete freedom on their annual leave to spend time with their families and restore energy for continued service.
"Their leave must not be hijacked for political purposes," he asserted.
In both cases, civil servants and soldiers, Kharge said, it is essential that government machinery is kept out of politics, especially in the months leading up to an election.
"In addition to the Enforcement Directorate, the Income Tax Department and the CBI already acting as election departments of the BJP, the orders mentioned above put the entire government machinery to work as if they are agents of the ruling party," the Congress president alleged in his letter.
Published: 22 Oct 2023, 7:23 PM