Saturday, April 29, 2017

State govt’s norm: It takes decisions, then reverses them.

Tribune News Service :Naveen S Garewal: Chandigarh, Saturday, April 29, 2017.
The appointment of former DGP Yashpal Singal as Haryana’s Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) has not gone down well with the image of the government that came to power promising good governance and transparency.
The move is being seen as an attempt to rehabilitate those sidelined earlier. This is not the first incident when the government has overlooked shortcomings to reward loyalty. And going by the government’s decisions, this will not be the last incident.
Against this backdrop, officers in the Secretariat have coined a phrase “government of U-turns” for the Manohar Lal Khattar’s rule.
Singal was removed as the state police chief in April 2016 after the Prakash Singh Committee pointed fingers at him and then Home Secretary, accusing the police chief of failing to lead from the front. The report reads: “The Home Department did not issue any directions on handling the crisis, while the then DGP Yashpal Singal did not visit any of the affected areas and also did not permit the next highest ranked officer to do so.”
Now, questions are being raised as to why Singal has been rewarded with a stintthat would go beyond his age of superannuation. As the CIC, Singal is expected to be objective in deciding cases against the government for its failure to comply with the Right To Information (RTI) Act. Will he be able to do a fair job? Many are asking this question.
In another decision, the government has decided to re-induct its sacked Publicity Adviser Jai Bhagwan alias Rocky Mittal. A Narendra Modi loyalist, Rocky was sacked in January after he spoke about siphoning of funds meant for the state’s golden jubilee anniversary celebrations. He is expected join back on Monday, sources said.
The government has acquired an image of rewarding officials close to power corridors. A case in point is the appointment of Shatrujit Kapoor as the CMD of the power corporations.
He was the Intelligence chief during the Jat agitation in February 2016. As MLAs, including ministers, demanded action against him for failing to safeguard life and property, he was removed. Now, he has been rewarded with a plum posting.
Another example of the government’s U-turn is the reappointment of Chief Minister’s personal assistant Abhimanyu Singh. He was removed at the behest of a power lobby that accused Singh of prevailing upon the CM to reverse certain important decisions. There were allegations and counter-allegations on the social media following his removal. But within weeks, he is back in office.
In the Gwal Pahari case as well, Khattar went back on its decision. First, he made a Secretary write a letter to the Gurugram DC to carry out the mutation in a speedy manner in favour of people whose land had been acquired by the state. Subsequently, under pressure from the Opposition, he made a statement in the House that the land must vest with the MC and got the mutation reversed.
Now, the High Court has ordered that farmers, whose land has been acquired for a SEZ or similar purpose, must be compensated. This has again compromised the image of the Chief Minister for reversing decisions on serious matters of governance.