The ruling BJP and Opposition Congress in Chhattisgarh appear to be competing with each other to woo serving and retired bureaucrats to join their partyfold, preferring them over committed party workers. There is thus the danger of creating and rewarding a “committed bureaucracy” in a fledgling resource-rich state.
The sudden resignation of Raipur Collector O P Chowdhary from the coveted IAS and his subsequent induction in the BJP last week has triggered a wave among retired and serving babus to join the two mainstream parties. Retired IAS officer R P S Tyagi, who was once considered close to Chief Minister Raman Singh, joined the Congress after his overtures to the BJP failed. Another retired IAS officer Sergius Minj joined the Congress.
All three of them are reported to be contemplating contesting the Assembly election slated for the end of the year. While the BJP is mulling fielding O P Chowdhary from Congress citadel Kharasia in Raigarh district, which has been a nightmare for the saffron party so far, R P S Tyagi is said to be eying Katghora assembly constituency in Korba district.
Kharasia witnessed a historic battle between the then wily Chief Minister Arjun Singh and Dilip Singh Judeo of erstwhile Jashpur princely state in 1988.
It was the dashing Nandkumar Patel, then Sarpanch of Nandeli village, who was spotted by Arjun Singh during the electoral melee and since then Kharasia has become synonymous with Patel and his family. Former Raipur collector Ajit Jogi was instrumental in bringing the Thakur of Vindhyas to this south-eastern tip of Chhattisgarh.
The BJP top brass has been working hard to turn the tables on the Congress in its fiefdom and O P Chowdhary is part of the ‘dismantling Congress bastions’ strategy. As Director of Public Relations, Choudhary was instrumental in persuading at least two local Hindi dailies and a TV news channel to favourably interview Reeta Tiwari, who is an accused in Indira Priyadarshini Bank scam, apparently to show his loyalty to the party in power.
Soon after Choudhary’s induction in the BJP, the jubilant state BJP president declared that several other top babus were also keen on joining the party. Scores of other government officers have also hinted that they are willing to call it a day to jump into the electoral fray.
“It’s another example of a committed bureaucracy readying itself to enjoy the fruits of its past loyalty to those in power. We certainly do not have any problem with those who have declared their affiliation, our concern is how many more are still covertly working for their political masters,” Aam Aadmi Party spokesman Uchit Sharma rued.
Party workers in both parties are not enthused either, but they are refraining from rabble rousing given the clout these bureaucrats enjoy in political and administrative apparatus.