One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee sitting on a dharna with Kolkata police chief to protest against alleged CBI highhandedness.

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Several years back in an article “That Pantomime Artist Known as Police” published in Indian Express (I was fond of seeing my name in papers in those years) I wrote, “The growing ineffectiveness of state police forces in the face of powerful offenders creates a demand for CBI investigation. This occurs even in cases which are well within the professional and logistic competence of the state police. The CBI itself becomes eminently vulnerable to charges of bias once the affairs of the Central Government become the subject matter of enquiry. The state police forces are well on way to being reduced to a level where they will be good for nothing but ceremonial parades and watch and ward duties and a day may come when the CBI too may face an erosion of credibility. Who shall we turn to then? Interpol, the FBI, or Scotland Yard?"

Has that dreaded day come to refer the standoff between the Kolkata police and the CBI to a neutral agency outside our borders?

"For the last several decades ambitious political leaders have sought to create fiercely loyal battalions of bureaucratic palace guards who, if they pass the loyalty test, are exempted from every other. The idea of the neutrality of civil service has long since been jettisoned in practice and the civil servant and political masters often show the internal cohesion of predatory gangs." - From my blog “Resurrected from Retirement”.

Mamata Banerjee makes an unprecedented intervention on behalf of her minion, Rajeev Kumar, who had investigated the chit fund scam as per the requirement of his master. Contrary to conduct rules, contrary to the canons of dignified behavior, Mr. Rajeev Kumar, Police Commissioner, is sitting on dharna along with his CM. The duo is protesting against the CBI which made it convenient to expedite investigation of the same Sarda case at a time and in a manner to help its master score some brownie points against his rival.

Some time back the two topmost officers of CBI Arun Verma and Rakesh Asthana, owing allegiance to the two major political parties were engaged in a vicious no holds barred fight, dozens of officers ranged on both sides. Big dads of both the political gangs were daring each other on behalf of their minions.

We prefer to call these “gang wars” constitutional break down, because our self-image would not let us believe that notwithstanding our claims to maturity as a secular welfare state governed on the principles of west minster system, we are more akin to the earliest political formations where the master personally directed everything and men who owed personal loyalty and allegiance to the master were in charge. These officials “slaves, household officials, attendants, personal ‘favorites,” were suitably compensated or opportunities were created for them to compensate themselves. Close your eyes, let your mind survey the situation, does it sound like a description of things closer home?

PS: I am reminded of an old aphorism; if you give the monkey a typewriter (it is an old aphorism before word processors came in) and let him type away to glory with no constraint on time, in a given period, he will have rewritten all of Shakespeare's plays etc. I believe our constitution is a mandarin text for us and given an infinite number of years we shall make it work. Not just now.

India Today magazine once referred to Manoje Nath, a 1973-batch IPS officer, as being fiercely independent, honest, and upright. Besides his numerous official reports on various issues exposing corruption in the bureaucracy in Bihar, Nath is also a writer extraordinaire expressing his thoughts on subjects ranging from science fiction to the effects of globalization. His sense of humor was evident through his extremely popular series named "Gulliver in Pataliputra" and "Modest Proposals" that were published in the local newspapers.


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