With the polls over and public anger against the SAD-BJP government having had its effect, Punjab’s top bureaucracy is limping back to its core administrative function of conceiving, formulating and implementing services for the people.
Behind the move is a seven-day deadline that chief secretary Rakesh Singh set on May 27 for the administrative secretaries, tasking them with identifying issues that need immediate attention.
As chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition regime performed relatively poorly in the state despite a ‘Modi wave’ in the country, the ruling politicians are now blaming the bureaucracy for the debacle.
The SAD had to console itself with just four seats — two won by a thin margin, only equaling the 2009 tally — while the BJP bagged two seats, up from 2009’s lone seat.
That was further eclipsed, however, by the humiliating defeat of BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley at the hands of Congress’ Captain Amarinder Singh from Amritsar.
As the blame game is escalating between the SAD and the BJP, the major share of culpability is set to fall on the bureaucracy, which, in the perception of the elected representatives, is “haughty, inaccessible and slothful”.
Apparently, to shake off this tag, chief secretary Rakesh Singh on May 27 shot off a demi-official communiqué to all administrative secretaries, saying, “I will request you that you may identify up to 10 such issues/initiatives which are important and desirable to be taken up and expedited in your department.
You are requested to send these proposals demi-officially to me at the earliest and not later than seven days.”
Rakesh Singh, who is keen on cutting short his innings in Punjab to join the central government, also pointed out: “…experience suggests that at times it happens that we are constantly engaged in focusing on more urgent works at our disposal and in that process some important issues take a back seat.”
Besides identifying issues and initiatives, the officers will have to “indicate the procedure required” to be adopted and the timeframe for execution. “Your proposal should be as brief as possible,” the letter reads.