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Premature Sine Die Of Jharkhand Assembly Session

A delegation from Jharkhand under the leadership of a BJP MP is said to have recently met the party high-command with their proposal to ask the Chief Minister to remove tainted officials from their plum posts forthwith in the larger interest of the image of the Government

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Inept handling of the situation by the BJP-led Raghubar Das Government in the Jharkhand led the State Assembly to perpetual pandemonium for eight consecutive days during the recent session that ended on Tuesday. The deadlock between the opposition and the treasury benches remained unresolved for want of punitive action against tainted top officials and the Speaker, Dinesh Oraon was left with no option except to declare the session sine die on Tuesday, 8 days ahead of the scheduled closing of the session on February 7.

Even as the three top officials of the Raghubar Das Government, Chief Secretary Rajbala Verma, Director General of Police, D.K. Pandey and Additional Director General of Police (Special Branch) had been in the eye of the storm since the commencement of the session for their alleged dubious roles, the Government failed to restore order in the house as it remained oblivious of the worsening situation. The recalcitrant stand by the opposition to remove these officials notwithstanding, the Government refused to pay heed to the demand and preferred to retain them for reasons best known to it only.

Incidentally, the past bears testimony to the fact that successive Governments in the State had to face similar situations and suffered the loss of face owing to charges levelled against officials by the opposition. But, unlike the present dispensation, the matter was resolved before it could turn for the worse and that too, either by BJP-led or BJP-supported Governments.

For instance, during the BJP-led Arjun Munda Government in the State in 2006, then Chief Secretary, P. P. Sharma was levelled with graft charges and the State CID came out with its report against him. Well-placed sources in the Government claimed that a CBI raid in the office of Chief Secretary could not be ruled out. Consequently, Chief Minister’s Office and Department of Personnel briefed the Chief Minister of dire consequences. Sources said that the Chief Minister preferred to replace the Chief Secretary forthwith in the larger interest of the Government’s image.

Second, during the BJP-supported Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led Sibu Soren dispensation in the State in 2010, then Director General of Police, V.D. Ram (Lok Sabha MP of BJP at present) was relieved from his post in order to salvage credentials of the Government. Ram was facing charges of misappropriation of Secret Service Funds of the State Police and in view of the sinister implications of the charges in the ensuing Assembly session, the Government preferred to replace him. The strategists in the Government had contended that questions pertaining to the alleged irregularities in the house would tarnish the images of the Government and Ram as well. Incidentally, Raghubar Das happened to be the Deputy Chief Minister in the then coalition Government of the JMM-BJP-AJSU combine.

Sources privy to the CMO claim that these officials have, in fact, become lumps in the throat of Chief Minister, Raghubar Das. He could not afford to succumb to the pressure mounted by the opposition to remove them nor can he ignore charges levelled against the officials. Sources confided requesting anonymity that the Chief Minister had directives from central leadership to protect the interests of these officials even at the cost of image of the Government.

A delegation from Jharkhand under the leadership of a BJP MP is said to have recently met the party high-command with their proposal to ask the Chief Minister to remove tainted officials from their plum posts forthwith in the larger interest of the image of the Government. But they were told to maintain calm and support the CM in complying with the order of the party high command in the matter.

If the interests of the Chief Secretary are to be protected in the light of her proximity to high-ups at the Centre, the question of the removal of the DGP is ruled out to ward of the possible threat to the impeccable credentials of others at the Centre. The CS is accused of ignoring around 15 notices by the CBI in connection with the 23-year old infamous fodder scam while discharging her duty as Deputy Commissioner of Chaibasa district during the days of united Bihar (before the formation of the separate Jharkhand State). However, the Government directed her to reply to the CBI queries in 15 days. Subsequently, it is alleged that she had demanded kickbacks from a banker to release funds.

The DGP is, however, accused of endorsing a fake encounter incident in the garb of anti-Naxal operation. Twelve Maoists, including four children, were killed in a fierce encounter with Palamu police and Cobra CRPF at Bokaria village under Satbarwa Thana of Palamu district in 2015 soon after Pandey was appointed DGP of the State. However, the operation was subsequently alleged to be fake and a CID probe was ordered. But the CID is alleged to have kept the matter in abeyance for about two years and a PIL was filed in the Jharkhand High Court in this regard. When M V Rao was recently made Additional DG of CID, he was supposed to have re-opened the file at the behest of Jharkhand High Court. But before he came out with some startling facts pertaining to the alleged fake encounter, he was transferred within three weeks of his joining, to Delhi. Subsequently, an interlocutory petition was filed in the High Court against Rao’s premature transfer.

A set of key functionaries at the Centre had hailed the Bokaria operation under the leadership of D.K. Pandey and made themselves available for conferring rewards to policemen.

Likewise, if ADG, Special Branch, was removed due to charges of abusing his office in favour of a BJP-supported candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections in 2016 in the light of the Election Commission directive to lodge an FIR against him, it is believed to be tantamount to self-annihilation by the powers-that-be that were hell-bent to ensure the victory of their party-supported candidate in the RS elections.

Significantly, besides the Opposition, a Cabinet Minister in the Raghubar Das Government, Saryu Rai has also been vociferously demanding action against the tainted officials after writing to the Chief Minister in this regard time and again.

To top it all, the pertinent question is: If actions against the DGP and ADG are considered to be detrimental to the credentials of the Government and many others, what constrains the Chief Minister has to remove the Chief Secretary? In fact, the magnitude of protection the Chief Secretary is being provided by political stalwarts is poised to pervade the corridors of power with the stench of a tacit-deal that they are believed to have forged for their mutual gains.

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