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Information war within govt

There is yet another war going on between the uneasy partners in the ruling alliance, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party. Shailesh Gaikwad writes.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2013 00:51 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad

There is yet another war going on between the uneasy partners in the ruling alliance, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.

This time, it is over the leaks from the cabinet meeting. The Congress ministers are irked over the way the details of the arguments (they called it discussion) over the new industrial policy was leaked to the media. Several newspapers carried stories on how NCP ministers targeted certain clauses in the proposed policy which they alleged were more for helping developers rather than promoting industry. They also wondered whether the proposed policy should be called a housing policy due to the controversy over the proposals to allow 40% of the land bought for special economic zones to develop residential and commercial projects. As all of this was out in the newspapers and on television channels, the Congress was forced to launch a counter-offensive. It was done by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Industries Minister Narayan Rane.

(Both of them have again come together as other factions within the Congress are not happy with Chavan). The Congress suspected NCP hand in the leaks from the cabinet meeting. Expectedly, the issue was raised by Congress ministers in the last cabinet meeting with Rane expressing concern at the `breach of protocol’ and as expected, the NCP washed its hands off the whole episode.

But then, how the details of the cabinet meeting (where the ministers are supposed to take decisions in the interest of the state and also supposed to discuss issues of public interest) is a well-known secret in Mantralaya’s corridors. Ministers from both the parties selectively leak the information whenever it suits them. And as the tussle between the two parties is getting bitter and bitter in the run-up to the elections, more information is coming out. A particular minister has gone a step ahead: His PR team sends a mail to the mediapersons after the cabinet meeting, informing about the issues raised by him in the meeting and what others said on the same!

The whole episode can be tackled in a simple way: In this age of right to information, why can’t they open the proceedings for the public?

Bit off more than he could chew?

You cannot take politicians for granted, a senior bureaucrat learnt it the hard way recently. The bureaucrat heading a plum department transferred a few subordinates without bothering to take permission from his minister which has been a norm in the government now. This led to argument between the minister and the bureaucrat.

Unable to tolerate that the transfers were ordered without his knowledge, the angry minister went to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and told him what had happened. He insisted that the bureaucrat should be transferred immediately else he would put in his paper. Soon, the officer was shunted out of his department. What also went against him was the controversies surrounding him in the past. On an earlier instance, expenditure on an event organised by his department on the occasion of golden jubilee of the state had raised many an eyebrows in Mantralaya.

Poaching season ahead…
Looks like the poaching season is likely to begin soon in state’s political circles. The buzz is that Nationalist Congress Party leaders, especially Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, are in touch with a few elected representatives from the Shiv Sena. Keen to increase its tally in 2014 elections, the NCP has spread its net to get some big fish. It won’t be a surprise if some netas switch sides soon…