IAS Officer in political quagmire: CM owes an explanation to Orissa

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

With BJP submitting a memorandum to Surendra Kumar, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Orissa, raising a demand for dismissal of four officers for their alleged political involvement with the ruling BJD , the Chief Minister’s private Secretary V Karthikeyan Pandian is in a political quagmire.

BJD workers have rallied support to Pandian after his residential quarter was ransacked allegedly by BJP workers to whom he is more a political worker than a government officer.

This political rally in Pandian’s support speaks loudly of BJD’s connection with the public servant. Hit by constant misrule, members even of apolitical public in Orissa have expressed their wrath by attacking various offices in the State where irritating officials have even been physically attacked. When BJD did not bother about that, why now it so stupendously comes to the support of Pandian?

Even as we strongly disapprove this attack on his residence, we are constrained to say that his boss, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik owes an explanation to Orissa on this count, as reduction of his private secretary – an IAS officer – to a level of being looked upon as a political hoodlum is his doing. He should not have used his private secretary – a public servant – for any political purpose.

We had earlier cautioned against Sri Pandian emerging more powerful than the State’s Chief Secretary and heavyweight cabinet ministers in a media-survey. The highly publicized survey report captioned ‘Odisha Power List 2016’ had put Pandian as the third most powerful person just below Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik (first position) and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan (2nd position). Cabinet Minister Damodar Raut was in the 5th position, whereas the State’s Chief Secretary was not even visible. The surveying media had observed that Pandian wields enormous power in not only the government, but also in Biju Janata Dal.

Neither Naveen Patnaik nor Pandian objected to this observation. The IAS Officers’ Association that now asserts to stand with Pandian was silent when his position in ‘Top Ten Power-list’ glittered in all newspaper banners.

Thus it is publicly settled that Pandian is a BJD servant in the guise of government service. For this downfall of an IAS officer – his private secretary – Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik owes an explanation to the people of Orissa, throughout as he has drawn salary as a serving IAS officer from the public exchequer.

As the IAS Association has expressed solidarity with Pandian in this case, it must offer its considered views on what had obstructed it to object to Pandian’s political working, and being perceived by the people of Orissa to be more powerful than all the ministers and IAS /IPS officers and the likes.

Collective bargaining on part of bureaucrats is different from collective blackmailing. The bureaucrats must collectively decide not to allow any of them to ingratiate with the Chief Minister to the extent of metamorphosing into a political hoodlum of the ruling party.

People have tolerated so much misrule, that it would not be surprising if offices or residences of officers turn into Ainthapalli Police Stations, if correctional steps are not immediately taken.

To begin with, Pandian should be asked by the IAS Officers Association to seek instant transfer to any other post outside CMO and/or the CM should forthwith order for his transfer. Political use of any officer will not be tolerated by the waking up people, we feel.

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