Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officials in every state know which side the bread is buttered on. Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal and IAS officers in Delhi are out to undermine the authority of an elected government by resorting to undemocratic means. While LG is trying to hold the entire state to ransom by overruling all policy decisions of an elected government, Delhi’s IAS officers are on an informal strike against the Kejriwal government, an unprecedented action just to please the Modi Sarkar. Former IAS officer and Delhi’s present LG Baijal and his babus are now behaving like those from Indian Ashirvad Service (IAS).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his government at the centre and the BJP governments in states are not known to be IAS friendly. There are numerous examples. The government had recently issued an advertisement, opening the joint secretary posts in ministries to the private sector. It stated that ‘talented and motivated’ officials working in Multi-National Companies (MNCs) or corporate houses can be directly recruited in the Administrative Services of the government a move that will definitely undermine clout of IAS in the long run. In many BJP-ruled states, governments have posted non-IAS, including those from the state services, on many crucial positions and so-called senior IAS officials can be seen tagging and liking the Facebook and Twitter posts of non-IAS holding such crucial positions. Surely, they know which side the bread is buttered on.
As revealed by a top government functionary of a BJP-ruled state, one of the chief ministers, during a meeting with top brass of government and the ruling party sometime in 2004, cribbed about the shortage of IAS officers in the state. Then one of the most powerful and popular BJP chief ministers promptly advised his party’s new CM “If you have a shortage of IAS officers, take a few from here. By the way, you will be happy if their number is less”.
The ongoing developments in Delhi throw up many vital questions. In a democratic set up, who is supreme – the elected government, the nominated governor or the government servants? The political situation in Delhi is the writing on the wall for other state governments as well. The BJP and its allies in the majority of the states are now enjoying the Delhi mess, but what will happen when such revolt by civil servants take place in their own states in future.
Over the years, IAS officers have become like trees that should not be planted near the houses as its roots can damage the foundation and anytime it can fall on your own house. Except in one or two politically aware and mature states, elected governments are under the grip of juggernaut bureaucracy. Delhi incident is a clear indication that the former IAS officer, now LG, is functioning like a ‘half-autocrat’ and non-cooperation movement by IAS lobby is threatening the democracy itself.
It’s possible only in a liberal democracy like India that a creamy layer cadre of 4900 odd IAS officers holds the sway in every matter and even hold the elected governments to ransom—posing a serious threat to the democratic set up. If the ruling party is behind or instigating such actions against an elected government just for narrow political gains, it is again a blow to the country’s federal structure and could even boomerang on the same party after it goes out of power—causing a permanent damage to our well-established systems.