Has the Rajasthan bureaucracy become a party in the ongoing tussle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former deputy CM Sachin Pilot?
This seems to be the burning issue in the political corridors after the IAS Association demanded strict action against panchayat raj minister Ramesh Meena for reprimanding Bikaner district collector Bhagwati Prasad Kalal who attended to a phone call while the former was addressing a meeting. The minister asked the collector to leave the room.
IAS Association secretary Samit Sharma shot off a letter to Chief Secretary Usha Sharma terming the incident as humiliating and unwarranted and demanded action so that such incidents are not repeated.
This is not the first time that such a political-bureaucratic feud has been reported in Rajasthan.
However, this is the first time that the IAS Association has mobilised in such a way after a dispute with a minister. The IAS Association members met Chief Secretary Usha Sharma and demanded strict action against Meena.
This is the first instance in the political and bureaucratic history of Rajasthan when IAS officers have given such an ultimatum. The IPS and IFS Associations have also come out in support of the IAS lobby.
Both the associations have also written to the Chief Secretary to take immediate action against the minister.
Association secretary Samit Sharma told the media that if action is not taken in this matter in a day or two, the anger among the officers will increase.
Eyebrows are being raised over why the bureaucratic lobby has become so angry after the Bikaner incident, when earlier too ministers have been targeting officers during the Congress regime.
Many officers are connecting the incident to the factionalism in the ruling Congress.
Normally in Rajasthan, the IAS Association never reacts in such a way when there is a dispute with a minister, as has happened this time.
In political and bureaucratic circles, factionalism in the ruling party is being termed as the reason why the IAS Association has become vocal in the matter.
Since Ramesh Meena belongs to the Sachin Pilot group, some IAS officers are also highlighting this episode to please Gehlot. Sports minister Ashok Chandna has accused Gehlot’s principal secretary Kuldeep Ranka of exercising all powers.
He even threatened to quit his ministerial post. Recently Minister Pratap Singh Khachariawas asked for the right to fill the ACRs of IAS officers, even then no protest was lodged by the association.
In fact, there are a number of incidents where a bureaucracy- political tussle was seen. But why is the IAS Association speaking up now.
There is discussion in the corridors of the Secretariat that the IAS Association is protesting with a specific target this time.
This issue is part of the tussle going on between Gehlot and Pilot, said sources.
When Ramesh Meena was elected from the BSP in 2008, he extended his support to the then Congress government and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. He was counted among the leaders close to Gehlot. In the changed circumstances between 2013 and 2018, he came close to the then Congress state president Sachin Pilot. He is a MLA for the third time in a row and this time has also become a minister. Meena is considered a strong politician in his area and among his supporters.
When he won in 2018, he was made a minister. But after going to Manesar with Sachin Pilot in July 2020 during his rebellion, he was removed from the post of minister along with Pilot. Later in November 2021, he was made a minister again.