AAP Working Hard to Rope In More Ex-Babus
By Cithara Paul | ENS | Published: 17th February 2014 07:40 AM |
Beset with the problem of top bureaucrats joining or wooed by opposition parties, the government plans to impose a mandatory “cooling-off” period for bureaucrats joining politics.
In this regard, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is trying to bring on board former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi and former MEA Secretary K C Singh. However, most of them have expressed their disinclination.
Even former health secretary and grandson of former President Dr S Radhakrishnan, Keshav Desiraju, who was unceremoniously shunted out following differences with Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad over “ethical issues” and Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna, who has filed a complaint against Finance Minister P Chidambaram for humiliating him in a meeting, are being rumoured to have been approached by the AAP. It is another matter that none of the above has made any public commitments so far.
However, a core committee member of AAP said that “a large number” of officials who are fed up with the corruption in the system and are known faces in States will be joining the party soon.
“These popular officials would be the face of AAP in the states,” he said, adding that Arvind Kejriwal’s bureaucratic background is an “added advantage” when it comes to winning over exasperated officials.
On the other hand, the BJP already has its hands full with a number of top-notch civil servants joining the party, including former home secretary R K Singh and former permanent representative to UN, Hardeep Puri.
Other senior officers who have already joined it include former petroleum secretary R S Pande, former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh, former additional chief secretary of West Bengal Radha Kanta Tripathy, former CBI joint director Sujit Ghosh and West Bengal chief electoral officer S K Magan. It is learnt that former IAS officer Alphons Kannanthanam, who is now in the inner circle of BJP, is acting as the connecting link between the party and the officials.
All these developments are apparently pinching the UPA government, and it would like to have a “cooling-off period” for officials who include those from the IAS, IPS and other Class ‘A’ services-between leaving the government job and joining a political party.
“If the government finally decides to go ahead with the cooling-off period, then it may go for an amendment in the service rules-All India Service (Death-Cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958-rather than going for
a change in Election Rules,” a source said. But there seems to be difference of opinion within the government with senior ministers like A K Antony and Sharad Pawar opposing this. Their opposition, it is learnt, is not about the matter of the proposal but the timing as election is just around the corner.
“They also feel that the fact that the PMO had last month rejected a similar plea to increase the cooling-off period for babus taking up corporate jobs immediately after their retirement would be read along with this and that would do no good for the party,’’ said the source.
It was in 2012 that the then CEC Quraishi had forwarded the suggestion ‘of some concerned citizens’ that there must be some cooling-off period post-retirement for the officers to contest elections. But the government had rejected it after initial discussions.