Shimla: The new Government of Himachal Pradesh, led by the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, has re-shuffled 34 IAS officials on January 5, 2018. Amongh these 34 officials, 10 were posted as the Deputy Commissioners of various districts.
Vikas Labro and Yunus Khan were the only two IAS Officers, who were not transfered and still hold the post of DCs of Una and Kullu respectively.
While there is nothing new in re-shuffling officials occupying important positions with the change in the government, a different pattern was observed emerging for the selection of candidates for these positions.
For the most important positions, the party is picking up candidates with a strong right-wing ideological background,well-tuned with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and had served dedicatedly as full-timers for the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
Other than this major decision to re-shuffle the administrative officials, the Chief Minister, Jairam Thakur, and his cabinet ministers continue to assure the public of delivering massive reforms in the governance and administration.
The Chief Minister, right after the swearing-in ceremony on December 27, had told the people that he would go after the ‘VIP Culture’. He had expressed consternation about the poor financial health of the Hill State, which is buried under a gigantic loan of Rs. 46,000 crores.
The biggest assurance is that the party and its ministers will imbibe and embody the concept of political equality as a way of life.
As Chief Minister is said to have hailed from a common farmer community, the people are expecting to witness a change in the feudal mindset of the politicians, ministers, and bureaucrats. The public thought this time all official formalities like the oath-taking ceremony, the usual cavalcade of luxury cars, and grand welcomes would be simpler instead of usual pompous display of power and privilege.
Grand Ceremony, Demand for Luxuries, Transfers
However, the ceremony came out to be pompous one in which a large number of so called VIPs including the BJP’s top guns Amit Shah and Narendra Modi and Chief Ministers of several states were invited.
Though, the Chief Minisiter denied it, the reports regarding the demand of the ministers for more expensive luxury vehicles and the quarrell over official residences are not going with the claims of ending VIP culture.
Public Money Frittered Away on Bouquets
Other than that, as per a Hindi Daily Jagran, the Chief Minister was greeted at the State Secretariat by presenting him bouquets. The cost of these bouquets, said the daily, ranged between Rs. 300 to 1,000 depending on the quality and quantity of the flowers. However, the bureaucrats did not spend on these expensive bouquets from their own pockets, but from official accounts. A plethora of bouquets was seen at the Chief Minister’s Office or any place he visited.
After the news appeared in the paper, the Chief Minister issued directions that no official visiting him would present bouquets.
The Chief Minister had fired all the re-employed officials after their retirement. The party has made the re-employment of retired employees a major issue prior to the elections. However, now the government has realized that in some cases, it can’t help it either.
In a cabinet decision taken yesterday, the service of 214 retired patwaris/kanungos engaged on contract basis were given extension till August, 2018 until the new batch of 1120 patwaris undergoing training will be recruited.
Further, the Chief Minister today proposed setting up more micro and small scale industries using the ample surplus land under Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).
Yesterday’s Assurances by CM and Cabinet Ministers
There would be zero tolerance towards the crime against women and corruption, said the Chief Minister while annoucing a 24×7 ‘Gudiya’ helpline today. The Chief Minister during his visit to the Press Club. To curb the corruption, the Atal Help Line will be provided, he said.
The Cabinet Ministers are also conducting meetings with their concerned departments and assuring a revolution in work culture.
Industries Minister Bikram Singh
Bikram Singh today assured he would make the state an industrial hub of the country in 100 days. As geographical variations have always limited the expansion of industries in the state, Bikram assured uniform industrialization by introducing a ‘New Industrial Policy’ focusing on ‘Rural Industrialization’.
He assured at the very least 80 per cent employments in up-coming industrial units to the youth of Himachal.
The minister also assured the Mining Officers will conduct regular inspection and form a special flying squad to check illegal mining. H
e said the mining sites and quarries will be auctioned in a transparent manner.
Minister for Food, Civil Supplies Kishan Kapoor
Similarly, Kishan Kapoor, in a meeting of Officers of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department at Shimla today, promised there will be no compromise on quality of essential commodities under PDS.
The officers will physically go in the field and conduct regular inspection of fair price shops, take samples and ensure reporting, he claimed.
Kapoor assured all the ration cards will be linked with Aadhar Number within 100 days. A toll free numbers 1967 is already functioning to redress the grievances of consumers, he said.
The government is giving a subsidy of more than 220 crore on subsidized food in Himachal, and it is the “duty of officers to ensure quality in this ration to provide best food to consumers in every nook and corner of the State,” he said.
Urban development, Housing and TCP Minister Sarveen Chaudhary
Minister Sarveen Chaudhary on January 5 presided over a review meeting of HIMUDA. She assured the concerned officials will complete all the developmental projects in a time bound manner. She said “no compromise will be tolerated in the quality of works and complete transparency should be maintained in the departmental affairs”.
The Minister gave the department 100 days for highlighting the priority of works with the projection of the cost and resource management. She said a cleanliness drive will be launched in the state, if the statement of the Minister is considered.
As per the Minister, so far, the HIMUDA has developed 17,229 houses, flats and plots.
The construction of 146 flats and development of 181 plots is in progress, while four housing colonies at Sheel, Dharmapur, Trilokpur and Rajwari are in pipeline, she said.
The minister is assuring construction of five clusters for solid waste management in Baddi, Hamirpur, Kangra, Shimla and Mandi. Vendor markets will be opened in different parts of the state and all possibilities of providing parking spaces will be explored.
The new government has promise fixing the errors in working of government departments. These sessions of claims and promises are likely to continue for a month or so.
The Chief Minister is repeatedly expressing gratitude towards the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party high-command for giving him a chance to serve. He also assured the public that the foot-steps of PM Modi in the field of development will be followed in Himachal too.
Administrative Policy Paralysis
However, the biggest challenge for the government would be to do away with the administrative policy paralysis.
To the dismay of the public, there has been a major debate over the excess interference of legislature with the executive, which often prompted the judiciary to step in. The relation between the political class and the permanent executive hasn’t been so healthy.
It is evident from the repeated need of the intervention from the apex court to make the government work properly.
The court’s intervention comes in response to petitions by the vigilant section of the civil society, watchful media and the Right to Information Act.
In fact, with an intention to put a check increasing erratic and unresponsive executive power, the apex court had ordered formation of the Civil Service Board.
Ban Speaker Rajeev Bindal, IPH Minister from Campaigning for Constantly Violating Model Code of Conduct, Misusing Govt Machinery: HPCC to CEO
Shimla-Bharatiya Janata Party-led Himachal Pradesh Government is misusing government machinery and power in the by-elections to Pachhad (55) and Dharamshala (18) assembly constituencies, thus, violating Model Code of Conduct, alleged the HP Congress Committee in a memorandum submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer on October 14, 2019.
The memorandum was submitted by a delegation led by Hari Krishan Himral, political secretary to HPCC President, Kuldeep Rathor.
It’s pertinent to mention that Congress had expressed dissatisfaction over the functioning of the Electoral Officers, alleging that they are working under the pressure of the current government. Congress has also decided to hold a protest rally on October 15, 2019, against the inaction of the Electoral Officers against violators of MCC despite the submission of documentary proof.
The HPCC, in the memorandum, said that it has been constantly reporting violations of Model Code of Conduct in the poll-bound constituencies. Dr Rajeev Bindal, Speaker of HP Vidhan Sabha, is violating Vidhan Sabha Act by holding meetings in favour of BJP candidate. Congress said it has given documentary proof of his holding meetings in Naina Tikkar of Pachhad Constituency on October 4, 2019, and in Thakur Dwara on October 10, 2019. Bindal has already received a notice from the Election Commission, seeking his reply over allegations of campaigning in Pachhad constituency.
The Irrigation and Public Health Minister, Mahender Singh Thakur, has been camping in Pachhad constituency to lure voters by adopting unfair means and malpractices, Congress alleged. On his orders, the IP&H Department unloaded trucks full of GI pipes which are now stacked in different locations in Naina Tikkar, Rajgarh, Rasu Mandir, Dilman and Wasni panchayats, Congress alleged.
The Deputy Commissioner, Sirmaur, has been informed through SDM and Police complaints have been filed about violation of Code of Conduct by government officials, Ministers and Speaker. However, the DC is allegedly behaving as an agent of BJP itself, Congress said in the memorandum.
Misuse of government property like rain shelters, National Highway, both in Pachhad and Dharamshala, is being regularly reported, Congress alleged. They are being used to paste posters in favour of BJP candidates which is prohibited in MCC, it said. Congress said it has submitted four different complaints to the State Electoral Officer since October 9, 2019, but it appears that ministers, Speaker and government officials are not bothered to follow directions from the Election Officers and they still continue to violate MCC. BJP wishes to sabotage the by-elections by their misconduct and adoption of unfair means, it alleged.
Congress has urged the Chief Electoral Officer to ban Bindal and Mahender Singh from campaigning for these elections for their misconduct and violation of MCC along with passing strict instruction to administration and police department to immediately remove stacks of GI pipes from the said locations and remove posters, hoardings and banners from government properties like NH and rain-shelters in both constituencies.
Congress also enclosed photographs with the memorandum as proof.
Speaker Rajeev Bindal Violating MCC by Campaigning for BJP, Misusing Official Machinery, Alleges Congress in Complaint Filed with EC
Sirmaur-Rajeev Bindal, the Speaker of Himachal Pradesh Legislatively Assembly, is openly taking part in Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral campaigns, alleged HP Congress. Congress has filed a complaint with the HP Election Commission over this violation of Model Code of Conduct and urged it to take an action.
Campaigning for the by-election to Pachhad and Dharamshala seats to be held on October 21, 2019, is in full swing. However, Congress has been alleging blatant MCC violations by Speaker Bindal and Irrigation and Public Health Minister Mahender Singh in Pachhad constituency. On Thursday, Congress staged a protest and shouted slogans against Rajeev Bindal’s rally in Thakurdwar of Pachhad constituency.
Congress has expressed shock over the way Model Code of Conduct is being violated in the constituency ahead of the by-election. It said the officials of the Election Commission have closed their eyes to deliberately ignore these violations.
The President of HP Congress Committee, Kuldeep Singh Rathore, on Thursday advised Rajeev Bindal to resign from the position of the Speaker if he wants to get indulged in politics. He said Bindal is supposed to uphold the dignity of his constitutional position. As the speaker, he is supposed to be neutral. However, Kuldeep alleged, he is undermining the dignity of his position by campaigning for the ruling BJP openly. Further, Kuldeep had said that black flags would be shown to Bindal whenever he would be found campaigning.
Kuldeep has also warned the Election Commission that if no immediate action was taken on the complaint, then Congress would not hesitate to protest against the EC and would knock on the door of the court if required.
It’s pertinent to mention that Congress has also alleged the Deputy Commissioner of Sirmaur of working like an agent of BJP instead of an Electoral Official. Congress has demanded that the DC should be transferred to ensure a fair election.
Congress has also alleged the Irrigation and Public Health Minister, Mahender Singh, of misusing government machinery for election campaigning and luring voters. In a press conference organized yesterday, Kuldeep had alleged both Rajeev Bindal and Mahender Singh for misusing official machinery to woo the voters in Pachhad constituency.
He had also mentioned that a couple of days ago, a truck carrying pipes used to construct poly-house was caught in Rajgarh. He had alleged that these pipes were being supplied on the directions of the Minister Mahender Singh to lure farmers.
Video: BJP in Himachal Alleged of Luring Voters, Blatantly Violating Model Code of Conduct
Sirmaur-Ahead of by-elections to Pachhad Constituency of Sirmaur district, Himachal Pradesh, Bharatiya Janata Party has been alleged of violating Model Code of Conduct by Congress on Tuesday. As per Congress, its candidate Gangu Ram Musafir along with other party workers caught a truck carrying pipes. He alleged these pipes belong to the Irrigation and Public Health Department, which were being transported to some village in Rajgarh.
Congress alleged that these pipers were being transported to different places of the constituency on the directions of the BJP leader and I&PH Minister Mahender Singh Thakur to lure voters.
Congress workers stopped a truck near the Rajgarh bus stand and questioned the driver about the supply of pipes. The driver could not provide them with a satisfactory answer. He said that the pipes were supposed to be transported to somewhere in Gattadhar.
Following it, Congress has filed a complaint with the police and the Election Commission regarding the alleged supply of the pipes. As per the report, a police team and officials of Election Commission visited the spot after receiving the complaint. The SDM, Rajgarh, Naresh Kumar, has sought a report regarding the case. The SDM said that these pipes were being supplied by a Mandi-based company to five farmers in Singhad area.
According to Musafir, two such vehicles were caught at two different places. He alleged I&PH Minister of blatantly violating Model Code of Conduct.
Congress leader Ram Lal Thakur alleged that Ministers of ruling government have been heard of luring voters in villages by offering them instant water and electricity connection. Electricity poles are being erected overnight, he alleged.
Now, Congress is gearing up to file a complaint with the Chief Election Commissioner.
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