In a decision that has raised hackles, the Himachal Pradesh government on Thursday banned ministers and bureaucrats from carrying mobile phones during the cabinet meeting.
Additional chief secretary, home, P Mitra, who is also the officiating chief secretary, issued a circular informing the ministers and bureaucrats about the decision to prohibit mobile phones during the cabinet meeting. The circular was issued just hours before the cabinet met under the chairmanship of chief minister Virbhadra Singh.
The decision to ban the mobile phones came apparently after the news related to taking over of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Associations' infrastructure was leaked out to the media.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh is also said to have expressed his displeasure over the news of spat between transport minister GS Bali and urban development minister Sudhir Sharma being reported.
Both the ministers had locked horns over the World Bank-aided tourism project that was sanctioned for Dharamsala. Bali had demanded that the project should not be confined to Dharamsala, but should also cover other towns of the district.
Today's move came following apprehensions expressed by the chief minister's office that some disgruntled ministers were in touch with opposition leader and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.
There is growing apprehension in the chief minister's office about the crucial information being leaked to them.
Arun Dhumal, younger son of Prem Kumar Dhumal, during a recent media conference had openly flaunted about information being passed on to him by a certain Congress minister.
Singh has reportedly been wary of some of his cabinet ministers when it comes to taking important decisions and only select members of coterie are told.
Today's circular has led to resentment among few of the ministers and bureaucrats. "It appears that the ministers are being treated as school students. The government should have respected the privilege of the ministers," commented a senior minister.