At a time when the Gehlot-Pilot power tussle is making waves in national politics and stories of factionalism keep coming to the fore in the BJP too, a bureaucracy-political rift is also making news in the desert state.
The politicians, in this case, were seen insulting senior officials at frequent intervals. In a first of its kind, the state bureaucracy had to take it as a Do or Die situation and open a front against the politicians.
Samit Sharma, secretary, IAS Association, penned a letter and quoted Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who once termed the IAS as the steel frame of good governance.
He said, "Patel while addressing the 1st batch of IAS officers at Metcalfe House in Delhi on 21st April, 1947 termed the Civil Services as the "Steel Frame" of good governance in the country which is expected to formulate and execute policies on behalf of the government for the welfare of the people of India. Of late, the above noble ideas and principles are under scathing attack. The Laxman Rekha is being crossed again and again. Current situation appears to be at an all time low."
Sharma termed it as a Do or Die situation and said, "It's not the time to wait and watch, it's almost a DO or DIE situation. If we don't kick the fear out of our minds, we are choosing to accept such humiliation again and again during the rest of our career too. I'll reiterate, our dignity, self respect and public image should not be compromised at any cost. So let us be prepared to fight till the last bullet."
"The institution of Collector, who is the representative of the government in the district, has been belittled. Indirectly it is a challenge to the whole idea of impartial bureaucracy," he said and submitted a memorandum to Chief Secretary Usha Sharma demanding quick action in the matter.
Rajasthan minister Ramesh Meena publicly chided the Bikaner district collector while addressing an event, saying the officer was preoccupied with his phone instead of paying attention to important issues he was raising.
Meena, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj minister, was addressing women at a programme when the district collector Bhagwati Prasad Kalal got a call on his mobile phone. Meena objected to it and asked why the officer was not listening to him.
Why are you not listening? Are bureaucrats so dominant in the state that they are not listening?" he asked the collector.
The collector got up from the sofa without saying anything. At the same time, the minister said, "You can go from here." However, moments later, the officer returned to the programme.
A video of the incident appeared on social media. Later in the day, a delegation of the Rajasthan IAS Officers' Association met chief secretary Usha Sharma and handed over a representation against the conduct of the minister and demanded appropriate action saying such incidents were not tolerable.
Samit Sharma said in the letter given to the CS that the Bikaner incident was unwarranted and humiliating. He said that the same minister had made distasteful remarks about the Alwar collector sometime back.
Usha Sharma assured them she will talk to the chief minister about the matter, sources said.
Earlier, Rajasthan Sports Minister Ashok Chandna had expressed anger about the working style of the principal secretary to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and said that he wishes to step down from his post.
"I personally request the honourable chief minister to free me from this dishonourable ministerial post, and give the charge of my departments to (principal secretary to the chief minister) Shri Kuldeep Ranka, as he is the minister of all departments anyway," he said on Twitter.
Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had also reprimanded a Sub Divisional Magistrate from Rajasthan's Jodhpur district after a video of him had gone viral praising a former Congress MP.
The bureaucracy-politicians rift in Rajasthan is yet another topic in discussion at the year end as many IAS officers have left the state and gone to Delhi on deputation.
A senior officer talking to IANS, said, "It's a weird situation, it seems everything is at a standstill amid the standoff between the CM and former deputy CM. We are also adopting a wait and watch attitude and shall take any initiative on projects only once there is clarity. Till then our options for deputation are there."