Stop Officers from Politics?
Columns, In Black & White

Stop Officers from Politics?

May 11, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, 8th May, claimed that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi used aircraft carrier INS Viraat like it was his personal taxi to go on a holiday to Lakshadweep.

That there was a holiday is a fact. But the question is about logistics. While former Navy Chief Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas weighed in saying PM Modi was lying, former Navy Commander V.K. Jaitly claimed otherwise ! Who do we believe?

Now, we know for a fact that Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas does not like PM Modi or the BJP. Because in 2002 he wrote an open letter to the PM about the happenings in Gujarat saying, “Dismiss Shri Mody as Chief Minister of Gujarat for his hand in the ethnic cleansing.” 

Interestingly in the same letter Admiral Ramdas wrote, “Growing up in Delhi as a young boy, the senseless slaughter of innocent human beings in 1947 are still vivid in my mind. To see the same happen in 2002 has been shattering.” We wonder why Admiral Ramdas didn’t feel shattered and write a letter when Rajiv Gandhi said, “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes” replying to a question about the 1984 genocide of Sikhs after his mother’s assassination.

Now, we wonder how the Admiral feels about Sam Pitroda brushing off the slaughter of Sikhs as hua-toh-hua. Imagine if Amit Shah when asked about Godhra riots brushed it off saying “hua-toh-hua”? There would have been chaos among “pseudo-liberals” who are now sitting tight-lipped about Pitroda.  This lack of fair criticism of both Left and Right by liberals is what makes them pseudo.

Recently, the Admiral wrote to the Election Commission asking it to “Ensure that armed forces are not used for political gains.” He is right in his request. But, may be if the armed forces are not to be politicised then Army men should stay away from politics.

That said, where was the need for the Admiral to join Aam Admi Party (AAP), only to be later unceremoniously discharged from his duty as its Internal Lokpal for causing internal strife?

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The fact is, may be it’s time to bring in a law about Government Servants entering politics because politics in India has become their final refuge.

That is why everyone from a Jawan (Tej Bahadur Yadav, the BSF Constable of ‘Bad Army Food’ video fame was given SP ticket for Varanasi) to a General (General V.K. Singh); From an Olympian (Discus thrower Krishna Poonia)  to Cricketer (Gautam Gambhir);  from Actor (Sunny Deol)  to Journalist (Supriya Shrinate); all of them are finding second wind in politics as a career.

But what is worrisome is that in recent  times there has been a spike in Civil Servants, Military Personnel and Police Officers entering politics.

Over the years the list of bureaucrats turning politicians has been growing, starting with BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, Natwar Singh, Mani Shankar Aiyar, former LS Speaker Meira Kumar (she was an IFS Officer), Arvind Kejriwal (former IRS Officer), etc. But, of course, what was   shocking was when former RAW Chief Sanjeev Tripathi joined BJP ! This is happening even at the State-level.

In Karnataka, Officers who entered politics include former DGP Shankar Bidari, former Bangalore Police Commissioner H.T. Sangliana, late Minister D.T. Jayakumar (he was Sub-Inspector in Nanjangud), former Inspector B.C. Patil (now sitting MLA), former DGP L. Revannasiddaiah, former DGP K.C. Ramamurthy, former ACP Abdul Azeem… the list goes on.

Even among Officers there are quite a few, there was former Chief Secretary B.S. Patil who stood for elections and more recently former Chief Secretary Ratna Prabha joined the BJP. In 2014, former Justice C. Chandrashekaraiah stood for MP elections from Mysuru-Kodagu seat.

But why do these people want to enter politics? Is it to serve or fill a void? For most of their career these Officers live a royal life — power, bungalows, servants and cars. But once they retire no one cares for them. And they feel the void of that power, relevance, bungalow, servants and cars. How to fix this void? Simple. Enter Politics.

The danger in this is that when they know they will join politics instead of being in the “service” of the people they will be in the service of political parties. 

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When Actors and Athletes join politics it is not significant but when Military Personnel, Judges, Bureaucrats and Police Officers plan to enter politics, it can be unhealthy for Democracy.

Just imagine, by giving ticket to a Jawan, who was sacked for insubordination, what message is one sending? Soon ambitious Jawans will start making derogatory videos of the military or their Senior Officers to seek attention and hope to convert that into a political gateway. How can it be healthy for the armed forces? Imagine if Generals started giving information of covert strikes to gain political mileage? What if Judges give unfair verdicts for post-retirement benefits? What if Police Officers turn a blind eye to overzealous political activists of the party they plan to join? What if bureaucrats go easy on implementation of land reforms to allow land-grabbing by their future political lords? Even worse. What if they indulge in severe bribery in order to build an election-kitty?

The truth is all the above are not “what if” scenarios, all the above has happened, is happening and will continue to happen and, if ignored, will only increase. So may be it’s time to stop it.

We may not be able to ban these Government Officers from entering politics but at least we can have a “cooling off period.” Like how there is a cooling off period for a retired bureaucrat before taking up a corporate job. Why can’t we have a cooling off period for those who are retired or are still in Government service to enter politics?

In fact, the EC in 2012 recommended to the then UPA Government that recently retired or resigned IAS, IPS and all-India services Officers be kept away from electoral politics for two years. Logic being that the unpredictability of a political future will keep them impartial to a certain extent while in service. The Government rejected the proposal. Why?

The Government argued that disallowing former bureaucrats to immediately join politics could violate their right to equality enshrined in the Constitution. Guess, the Government had forgotten the Oath these Officers took which states “…I will carry out the duties of my office loyally, honestly and with impartiality”? So, how can an Officer serve this nation and its people  “Loyally, honestly and with impartiality” when his decision-making is guided by his political ambitions?

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4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Stop Officers from Politics?”

  1. Citizen says:

    26th Dec 1988…………..
    The then Prime Minister and Congress President Rajiv Gandhi planned a ten-day holiday at Bangaram Island.
    The Lakshwadeep Archipelago consists of 30 islands of which Bangaram is one, an uninhabited island, covering a mere half a sqkm.
    The Indian Navy’s Aircarft Carrier, INS Virat picked up the holiday-goers from Mangalore & sailed them to Karavatti, the capital of the Lakshwadeep Islands.
    Let that sink in.
    Not a luxury cruise ship….
    Not a hired, private yatch…..
    Not a plane……..
    *But Indian Navy’s Aircraft Carrier*
    An Aircraft Carrier is not an ordinary ship; alone on the seas.
    It is a War Ship that serves as a sea-going Airbase.
    It is the capital ship, heading a Carrier Battle Group, requiring exceptional protection for itself.
    A vulnerable Aircraft Carrier is an useless white elephant.
    The security for an Aircarft Carrier is a layered, in-depth protection, against all conceivable threats at Sea.
    An outer-most layer of Aircraft on Airborne early warning, Surveillance & Air Defence tasks.
    The next layer; Anti-Submarine patrols by ships as well as specialised
    Aircraft/ helicopters.
    Another layer of destroyers & frigates, specifically for Anti-Air, Anti-Missile, & Anti-Submarine tasks,
    the inner-most, close-in-defence by the systems on the carrier itself are needed.
    In this case, a Submarine was rumoured to be lurking around too.
    The holiday-goers list included:
    Prime minister, his Italian-born wife &
    their two children
    Four friends of Rahul & Priyanka
    Sonia’s sister, husband & daughter
    Sonia’s widowed mother
    Sonia’s brother
    Sonia’s maternal uncle
    Amitabh Bachchan’s wife & their two kids
    His brother Ajitabh’s daughter
    Wife & daughter of Birendra Singh, brother of former Union Minister, Arjun Singh
    A total of:
    6 Italian nationals
    2 unknown foreigners
    14 Indians (including Sonia who had surrendered Italian passport 5 years earlier),
    on a joy-ride on the Indian Navy’s Aircraft Carrier
    Amitabh joined the group by catching a helicopter from Cochin to Karavatti, a day later.
    On his way back, he was spotted by an Indian Express photographer.
    As he was roundly abusing the scribe, the journo managed to click four snaps & the holiday was thus reported in the press.
    Bangaram is an uninhabited island.
    So, everything was set-up from scratch.
    An Administration helicopter ferried to the party!!
    The Society for the Promotion of Recreation, Tourism & Water Sports (SPORTS), a wing of the Lakshadweep administration was at their service.
    A temporary farm with 100 chickens was set-up, two cooks worked full-time, under the supervision of the Gandhis’ personal cook.
    Crates of liquor were brought from New Delhi, cold drinks & drinking water suppplied from Karavatti.
    Along with these, island’s choicest fruits.
    The rest came from Cochin or Karavatti, in 3 trips for this group of 20+ VIPs.
    A data uplink was set-up in Agatti, understandable for a Prime Minister on the move.
    But for the rest, the Administration was waiting hand & foot, to ensure that the VIPs had a pleasant stay.
    Four months earlier, Rahul & Priyanka with four friends had holidayed at Lakshwadeep.
    The total bill they ran up was Rs 18,000/- (paid by Rajiv).
    A group of six ratcheted up a bill of Rs 3000 per head in 1988.
    In 2019, that would be
    Rs 2.7 lakhs per head &
    Rs 16.38 lakhs total!

  2. U need some medical attention, Get it before it’s too late.

    • Citizen says:

      Is this the latest method of handling the truth? Advise them to get some medical attention !

  3. Huchha says:

    @Responsible Citizen< typical response from a Congress sycophant!!

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