Keeping govt agencies out of politics

All government agencies, whether Central or State, are supposed to work in a professional way and with total impartiality. Political parties should not involve them to settle scores with each other. However, the opposition complains that the way some of these agencies, like the CBI, the ED, the Income-tax Department, etc, have been used by the Centre smacks of political vendetta. As a retaliation, where any opposition party is in power, it is targeting people perceived to be close to the ruling party at the Centre. Worse still, sometimes it comes to warlike situation between Central and State agencies as was seen when the CBI made a bid to arrest the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata.
This is a most undesirable development. The Government and its agencies have not only to be impartial but seen to be so. Taking back medals given to police officers working in a State for their alleged participation in a political dharna of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shows the Centre’s hostility not only to the Trinamool Congress and its government but also to the agencies like the police that function under the government. A chief minister is a chief minister, whether he/she is in the State Secretariat or his/her residence or on a dharna at a public place. Senior police officers have not only to provide the CM security but to take instructions from her. It may be recalled that decades ago, Ajoy Mukherjee, the then chief minister of a coalition government in which the CPI-M was a major constituent, had sat on a dharna against his own government. Senior police officers were at the spot as they are required to be.
When the Congress was in power, it did not use any of the central agencies as its adjuncts. All that has changed and they are perceived to be used selectively to settle political scores. When central agencies go after opposition leaders or members of their families just on the eve of the elections in cases in which they had taken no interest for many years, questions are bound to be asked. Recent raids on Mayawati, and Askhilesh Yadav, or the sudden interest of the CBI to accelerate the inquiry into the Ponzi scams in Bengal create the public perception that these are being done with an eye on elections. Governments come and go in a democracy but the State agencies remain. Their autonomy and professionalism must be scrupulously protected.

Monday, 11 February, 2019