In Madhya Pradesh, bureaucrats are forever

DB Post 5 Jan 19


The decision to appoint Sudhi Ranjan Mohanty as the new chief secretary of MP, was taken soon after the Congress returned to power in MP. However, the new government refrained from posting him as Officer On Special Duty, waiting in the wings to take over as CS, as has become customary in recent years.

Mohanty was himself averse to the idea of moving into the hot seat early. Hence official orders were issued at the last hour even as many kept guessing.

But some people did not want to keep guessing. The moment Mohanty’s name started making rounds as a probable candidate for the top post, they tried to sabotage his chances.

Soon after the change in the government, Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s office started getting petitions to stop Mohanty’s appointment as chief secretary, according to a source in AICC.

But those petitions failed to stop Mohanty’s resurrection. Apparently, the new Government wanted to make amends for the BJP Government’s earlier decision of superseding Mohanty.

Mohanty, who was a star in the Digvijaya Singh administration, was bypassed in the race for chief secretaryship in 2016 when the BJP government preferred BP Singh, two batches his junior.

Mohanty is considered an efficient officer. In a state notorious for its laid back style, he is considered a go-getter. But the BJP government ignored his seniority as his name had figured in a two decade old case of bad company deposits made by the Digvijaya Singh administration.

It became a political scandal with the BJP training its guns on the predecessor government for the bad loans. In the legal case that followed, the BJP government made officers too accused along with politicians.

Mohanty kept winning appeals in one court after another. But he continued to suffer due to his perceived closeness to the previous regime.

It is an open secret in bureaucratic circles that an influential group of IAS officers close to ex-CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan also worked overtime against him.

Mohanty joined IAS at the age of 22. Had his promotion not been delayed, he would have continued in the post of CS for four years, scuttling the chances of scores of others.

Given this background many people anticipated that Mohanty’s fortunes would turn now. So his appointment did not cause any surprise. But many Congressmen’s eyebrows were raised as their government gave a post superannuation job to outgoing chief secretary BP Singh.

Chief Minister Kamal Nath had opposed the six month extension given to Singh last year on the ground that it would affect the fair conduct of polls. The petition to the Election Commission virtually questioned his impartiality.

Apparently, that was public posturing. The message from BP Singh’s post superannuation job is clear: the new government does not believe in mingling administration and politics. Nath has also indicated that he values competent officers with proven integrity.

Yet another appointment last week also underlined Nath’s preference for officers of proven caliber. Former chief secretary R Parasuram, who was working as chief of State Election Commission, will now be heading the institute of good governance. That was also least expected. Says Parsuram: “It came as a pleasant surprise.”

More importantly, Nath has also made it clear that his administration does not believe in vendetta. Soon after the political change, the Government transferred large number of officers from key postings. But contrary to popular perception, it didn’t affect many officers considered close to Chouhan.

In fact, Nath retained one of the Chouhan appointees in the CM secretariat. It is well known that officers in CM secretariat are considered closest to the political executive. The CM depends upon these officers even for work of political nature. Hence the retention of Ashok Barnwal in CM secretariat was a fine example of change with continuity.

Even Vivek Agarwal and M Suleman, considered Chouhan’s blue eyed boys, continue to enjoy important assignment. While Suleman was not touched, Agarwal got the important department of PHE.

No action was taken against any officer because he or she was perceived to be close to Chouhan. While the decision has been criticised by many Congressmen, it reflects political maturity and self confidence of the new dispensation.

The only senior officer to suffer was probably Manoj Shrivastava as it was felt that he used to wear his ideology on his sleeves. In a case of poetic justice he was given charge of the cow ministry, a part of the Hindutva brigade’s political agenda.

It may sound cynical, but the recent bureaucratic changes prove that babus are there forever.

Powers That Be, my column in DB Post of 5 January 2019


कलेक्टर ने सड़क की शिकायत करने वाले को जेल भेजा

Citizens march against Collector for sending senior citizen to jail

Collector sends to prison senior citizen for complaining about bad roads


प्रमोद पुरोहित ने सपने में भी नहीं सोचा था कि अपने गाँव की खस्ताहाल सड़क की शिकायत करने पर उन्हें जेल जाना पड़ेगा। मध्य प्रदेश के नरसिंहपुर जिले में पिछले दिनों ठीक ऐसा ही हुआ। सड़क मरम्मत करवाने की मांग लेकर जिला कलेक्टर की जन सुनवाई में पहुंचे रेलवे के 61 वर्षीय इस रिटायर्ड जूनियर इंजीनियर को चार दिन जेल में गुजारने पड़े। कलेक्टर के कहने पर उन्हें गिरफ्तार किया गया था, सो उसके अधीन काम करने वाले एसडीएम ने भी जमानत नहीं दी।

नौकरी से रिटायर होने के बाद पुरोहित अपने गाँव खुरपा में बस गए थे। वे खेती-किसानी कर गुजारा करते हैं। आस-पास के गांवों में उनके परिवार की बड़ी इज्जत है। उनके गाँव से बगल के कस्बे को जोडऩे वाली सड़क काफी खराब हालत में है। सड़क इतनी खराब हालत में है कि बारिश के दिनों में उस पर पैदल चलना भी मुश्किल है। वे दो साल से उस सड़क को ठीक करवाने की जद्दो-जहद कर रहे थे। पर तमाम कोशिशों के बावजूद सरकार उस सड़क की सुध नहीं ले रही थी। Continue reading “कलेक्टर ने सड़क की शिकायत करने वाले को जेल भेजा”

The bad and the ugly of Madhya Pradesh

DB Post 1 September 2018


When Pramod Purohit, 61, went to the Narsinghpur collector’s office to complain about the horrible condition of road to his village, little did he know that his action would land him in jail. But that is what happened when the retired junior engineer of Indian Railways went to the weekly public hearing for grievance redressal organised by the collector.

The road leading to Purohit’s village, Khurpa, is in pathetic condition — notwithstanding CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s claim of MP’s roads being better than America’s. Purohit, as a concerned citizen, was trying to get it repaired for a long time. Continue reading “The bad and the ugly of Madhya Pradesh”

MP’s Famous Five of Social Media

DB Post 4 Aug 18



It was mid-summer madness.

A 27-year-old divorcee from Punjab kept Ujjain police on tenterhooks for almost a week after she landed there in June to meet SP Sachin Atulkar.

The woman was clearly infatuated with the 33-year-old cop’s chiselled looks, rippling muscles and 18-inch biceps that have turned the IPS officer into a social media poster boy.

She threatened to jump off the train when the police tried to send her back to Punjab. Finally, her relatives took her away.

But before that she broke an LCD TV, an air cooler and furniture at a police station even as harried policemen tried to keep her satisfied with pizza and paneer butter masala.

She was a social media fan of the police officer. One of the 3.45 lakh fans! Continue reading “MP’s Famous Five of Social Media”