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Haryana not a fiefdom

Chautala's refusal of the EC directive takes him where no politician dared to go.
PTI | By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON APR 10, 2004 11:52 AM IST

Haryana chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala has gone where no Indian politician has dared to go. His refusal to abide by the directive of the Election Commission to replace the state’s director-general of police smacks of war-lordism.

Except that the police force of a state in India is not the private garrison of a chief minister or a ruling party. Like all other public institutions, the police is designed to subserve the ends of democracy.

If the EC had asked that the DGP be changed, it is only because the wife of the present holder of that position is running for elections as a nominee of Mr Chautala’s party. Since the police does have a crucial role to play in ensuring fair balloting, the EC’s concern is a legitimate one. Its directive can by no means be taken as cocking a snook at the CM, or indeed casting aspersions on the incumbent DGP. Mr Chautala might have done well to appreciate that his defiance cannot go very far. Coming from the head of a state administration, this episode marks a sorry saga. If it is not entirely clear what exactly is to be done in the circumstances, it is only because nothing like this has occurred before.

Mr Chautala has quite clearly not noted that once elections are notified, all officials are deemed to be on deputation to the commission. If democracy is to be taken seriously, it is in our interest that the dignity of the commission is seen to be upheld. We shall be doing ourselves an injustice if we lose sight of the fact that an independent Election Commission is an archstone of democracy. It might be best if Mr Chautala himself re-considers his position and prevents a conflict situation from developing. That would be serving the people of his state best.

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