Are Bihar’s bureaucrats government servants or of Nitish Kumar and his political party, JD(U)? This is a question the Opposition and people alike are asking these days.
For some babus of Bihar, the line between the government and party has blurred. They seem to have become political workers rather than acting as politically-neutral functionaries. They throw code of conduct out of the window to keep their political masters in good humour.
Last week, people were surprised when District Agriculture Officer of Jamui district, Manoj Kumar, released an advertisement in a local newspaper welcoming the Chief Minister for JD(U)-organised “Adhikar Yatra” in his district. This shows the official’s degree of loyalty to a particular party.
Slamming the state government, leader of the Opposition Abdul Bari Siddiqui said, “The government officers have become so much committed to their political masters that they throw all rules and ethics which bar them in participating in political campaigns. Hopefully, any sensitive government would take action against this officer.”
The story of sycophancy doesn’t end here. Senior IAS officers, including Vyas Ji, Principal Secretary, Health; Vijay Prakash, Secretary, Planning; K P Ramaiah, Secretary, Mines & Geology; Amarjeet Sinha, Principal Secretary, Education, too don’t bother to cross the boundary of ethics defined for civil servants. Some of them recently wrote articles in local newspapers justifying the demand of special status to Bihar. These officers too participated in different media events with politicians to mobilise public opinion on the issue.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is currently touring the state to mobilise support for his party’s ‘Adhikar Rally’—demanding special category status to Bihar—in Patna on November 4. The demand has gained political colour as it becomes JD(U)’s plank for the coming general election. Earlier an inter-ministerial group constituted by the Centre to look into Bihar’s demand for special category status had rejected it.
“How can an IAS officer afford to participate in a campaign against central government decisions,” lamented a retired civil servant. Agrees retired IPS officer Manoje Nath: “The political neutrality of officers is becoming more and more questionable as many civil servants want to enjoy the fruits of plum posting which can only be possible by showing their personal loyalty to the politician in power. Who cares for code of conduct and tenets of Westminster model of democracy that we are practising with ‘steel frame’ legacy.”
While defending their colleagues, a senior IAS officer said that these officers have only defended the stand of the government.
The article was also published in The Sunday Standard