For CS of a state, PM comes first, not CM

For CS of a state, PM comes first, not CM
x

For CS of a state, PM comes first, not CM

Highlights

The recent incident in West Bengal where the chief minister and chief secretary came late to a review of the Prime Minister and left in the middle and the subsequent action of government of India issuing notice to the chief secretary under the Disaster Management Act has drawn different opinions from some of the retired officers.

The recent incident in West Bengal where the chief minister and chief secretary came late to a review of the Prime Minister and left in the middle and the subsequent action of government of India issuing notice to the chief secretary under the Disaster Management Act has drawn different opinions from some of the retired officers. There are a group of retired officers who find anything to do with Narendra Modi objectionable and question him on everything under the sun from Central Vista project to Lakshadweep administration. Naturally, here also they found fault with the Central government and its action subsequent to the incident. This group consists of retired officers of impeccable honesty, integrity and known for their high standards of administration, but have a strong left-leaning ideological thought process. Others part of this group are beneficiaries of previous regime both in terms of pre and post retirement assignments. So it is wrong to assume there are a group of neutral retired officers objectively reacting to these events and giving their opinions.

Having said that let me also disclose my own credentials before offering my views on the subject. I retired as chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh but I'm presently member of the Bharatiya Janata Party and am a believer in the ideology of the party.

It is not uncommon for collectors who hold their conferences to see some of the tahsildars turning up late for the meeting. Since he's already late and knows he committed a mistake, the tahsildar will be shivering, sweating and when questioned mumbles something to the affect that there was a traffic jam or some other problem somewhere because of which he got delayed. After a warning everything settles down and the review goes on. But when the Prime Minister of India comes to a state that too in the midst of a natural calamity for a review it's not like a collector's conference which happens once in a quarter or a month . He is visiting the state as the Prime Minister of the country and the appropriate protocols have to be followed both by the chief minister and the chief secretary. It is not a question of I got delayed because helicopter could not take off. It is expected that the concerned would be available well in advance so that the precious time of the Prime Minister is not wasted. Same is the case with the chief minister down the line and it is not expected of someone to keep the chief minister waiting either.

In this particular case it looks for political reasons the chief minister of West Bengal consciously decided to come late to the meeting and leave in between. But at least she could have been gracious enough to leave the chief secretary to be available on time and attend the meeting. When this grace is missing from the chief minister the chief secretary is presented with a difficult choice to make. After all administration is about making difficult choices some times. Here the first thing he has to remember is he is a member of the all India service. Even if he belongs to a particular cadre he still is an all India service officer and as per the protocol it is very clear the Prime Minister comes before the chief minister. He either should have persuaded the chief minister since it is being presented that he has the best of relations with the chief minister or if she persisted with her intransigence and requested her to give it in writing or should have made the decision of attending the Prime Minister's review and be prepared to face the consequences. It is here the chief secretary has definitely erred. That his presence with the chief minister was required to implement her decisions and follow them up is not an answer for his failure to attend the review meeting on a natural calamity in his own home state by the Prime Minister of the country.

The subsequent events of first notice under the service rules and then under the Disaster Management Act it would better be left to the competent courts to decide who alone have jurisdiction to adjudicate on these matters. Views of retired Cabinet secretary or secretary are neither here nor there. Let us not forget the Disaster Management Act came into play after a smart operation of retirement and re-employment done to prevent the operation of the service rules.

(The author is former chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh)

Show Full Article
Print Article
Interested in blogging for thehansindia.com? We will be happy to have you on board as a blogger.
Next Story
More Stories