Tuesday, 25 January, 2022
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With ‘just two slaps’ at the CM’s home a huge blow dealt to politician-civil servant ties

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Fights between politicians and civil servants aren’t new. Physical violence in a CM’s residence is a new low.

Nobody has a doubt that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is made of street-fighters. Most, including its critics, would agree that since the day it got elected in Delhi, humiliating Narendra Modi’s BJP at its peak by winning 67 seats out of 70, the Centre has launched a Cold War on it, not letting it function even according to the limited powers Delhi’s quasi-statehood confers on it. There also isn’t much doubt now that the state’s chief secretary, a senior, soft-spoken and much-liked IAS officer (1986 batch) Anshu Prakash, was manhandled at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s home late last Monday night.

Elected state governments and civil servants often fight. Humiliation of civil servants, including IAS and IPS, by chief ministers is also not new. Many also draw sadistic pleasure from it.

Mayawati as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh was the unchallenged transfer queen. She also takes pride in that power. In a ‘Walk The Talk’ interview with me in 2005, she boasted about this. When she first met her mentor Kanshi Ram (who lay in coma on the first floor of her Humayun Road home where we were recording), she was preparing to compete for the IAS. Kanshi Ram told her not to bother and join politics with him instead. “You want to become an IAS,” he said, “I will make you somebody IAS officers will run around.” Kanshi Ram lived up to his promise. So did Behenji in giving her officers the runaround. At one of her 2007 election meetings in Badaun, we heard her boast to her cheering crowd: “Bureaucracy mere naam se thhar-thhar kaampti hai,” (the bureaucracy trembles at the very mention of my name).

She would toss them around so often that many stopped shifting their families to the places of their new postings. They’d just move to the circuit houses in the new place, avoid dislocating families, especially the children’s education, as there was no knowing how soon they would be on the move again. Many escaped to central postings or other secondments.

Similarly, of the rougher states I am more familiar with, Haryana did some of the same, especially under Bansi Lal and Om Prakash Chautala. There were frequent transfers and corruption cases, vigilance inquiries and sidelining of the previous regime’s favourites into what was locally called “khudde-line” (I can’t translate it, the closest is, in the wilderness).

I can go on with many such examples, even specific cases of true, political bloody-mindedness. I cannot, from the memory-bank of nearly four decades in journalism, rustle up another case where a senior officer was beaten up, least of all a chief secretary, and that too, in his chief minister’s house. I am not counting some cases of assassinations by mafiosi politicians, especially in old Bihar. That’s a different category.

The medical report, the video evidence seen so far and the three-decade reputation of Anshu Prakash indicate that the assault did indeed take place. So that fact is not a point of debate. Now the chief minister’s own aide V.K. Jain has asserted quite unequivocally that Prakash was manhandled.

As the days have passed, AAP’s own spokesmen and leaders have shifted positions, from total denial, to the more defiant: you will send police to the chief minister’s house to investigate the allegation of a “mere two slaps” while you do nothing to question Amit Shah for Judge Loya’s “murder”. You can choose to call it old whataboutery. I would say it is more like constitutional insolence. Forget contrition, there isn’t even a word of sympathy or solidarity for a human being in your service subjected to physical violence. On Friday, AAP’s Uttam Nagar MLA Naresh Balyan was also reported as saying that such bureaucrats deserve to be thrashed for not doing their work. Although senior AAP leader Atishi Marlena was quick to strongly condemn it. All government officers need to be treated respectfully and the AAP government believes in working in collaboration with them for Delhi’s development, she tweeted.

Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP in Delhi and Narendra Modi’s BJP at the Centre have been at war now for three years. It has manifested in different ways although most of the blows have been struck by the Centre. Successive L-Gs have squatted on the state government’s decisions. Postings made and desired by the elected government have been changed or denied. The CBI has raided and charged the chief minister’s key IAS officer Rajendra Kumar in a corruption case that doesn’t make too much sense. In any case, the amounts it talks about look trivial. The control of the Anti-Corruption Branch, the department AAP coveted most of all, was taken away from it. The latest was the alacrity with which the Election Commission of India disqualified 20 AAP MLAs on the charge of holding dual offices, and received the President’s approval for it over the same weekend. The rude police raid at Chief Minister’s home this Friday, without any courtesy of due notice or warning was one more in the series of hostilities.

This list, by no means exhaustive, tells us that so far much of the bureaucratic and procedural artillery-fire has come from the Centre. AAP has retaliated with verbal salvos, the most famous, or infamous being Kejriwal’s description of Modi as a “coward and a psychopath”. The latest, physical violence, is an unprecedented turn.

Anything we call unprecedented also sets a new precedent. Will physical violence against civil servants now become a new norm? We do describe AAP as a party of doughty street-fighters, but if they legitimise political violence of this kind, there are many, many tougher political leaders elsewhere who’ll draw the wrong lessons. Imagine a situation where an upright officer refuses to carry out a chief minister’s or a central minister’s orders that he considers wrong. Can he be summarily thrashed at a meeting at your residence, or in his own office? One of the arguments we heard in this affair is, the chief secretary or bureaucrats do not have to face the two-and-a-half lakh people denied their rations. Will political leaders then unleash the mobs on their officers? Will senior officers now need to take police protection while visiting their elected leaders’ homes?

Political leaderships and civil services have a delicate relationship. Fights do often break out over issues which may be procedural, principled or personal. Good leaders know how to handle these. The leader of a state, even one with limited powers like Delhi, is the chief minister. It is for him/her to resolve these differences, to make sure things do not take an ugly turn, and if need be, take the issue to higher constitutional authorities. When that also fails, recourse to public protest, noise in the media (which AAP is very good at) is available. But your chief secretary beaten up, even if given “just two slaps” at your residence, is nothing to be proud of.

In the introduction of my 2014 Anticipating India (Harper Collins), I had said that the trio of Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Kejriwal will lead a brilliant cast of characters in our politics that leaves no dull moment in us journalists’ lives. I had also hoped that all three will change: Modi towards mainstream moderation, Rahul by shedding public diffidence and risk avoidance, and finally, Kejriwal towards a little establishmentarian calm. This week tells us that I was completely wrong on that last expectation.

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43 COMMENTS

  1. Since Shekhar Gupta is discussing AAP and its founder at length in this article, which itself has as AAP’s shocking behaviour as the subject (“street fighters”, ah, well of course…that’s sufficient mitigating circumstances, right). I wonder why he did not refer to the nice tweet that AK made against SG…

    I think it was on the lines of Shekhar Gupta being a dalal…ie pimp.

  2. Question arises whether Police, Media, Court, etc have recorded any reason of slap? If yes, what was the reason, if no, why?

  3. Shekhar Gupta, how do you know there was two slaps..? How can you without any proof just state yes it happened and write an article around it..? Is this the journalism you practice..? Show atleast one proof and then report.

  4. I started reading the article but suddenly I wanted to see who’s the writer & it’s SG, so I jumped to comments & gave up.

  5. Sekhar in the guise of ,to look balanced,missed the point.
    Evaluation of modi ,mayavati,and kejriwal was not objective.
    Modi with obsolute power did nothing for nation,and also damaged a healthy economy,and tried to polarize society on communal lines.mayavati though groomed by kanshiram,was consumed by the power,and agrandised wealth , and did little for dalits.,In case of kejriwal ,he came with good intentions,and definitely did some good work on Delhi schools,some good mohalla clinics ,free water etc, but his lack of experience is showing.
    Being a former government officer,he should have prevailed on his MLA s,and avoided that situation.
    But the point is,no where in the country,an elected government is subjected to so much frustration,and harrasment.It shows the meanness of modi and his government.
    Yes AK failed the torture test,and succumbed,he will pay the price for it.
    AK also failed to retain Prashant bhushan and his likes,who would have provided the maturity and wisdom to his party which is sadly missing.

  6. “The medical report, the video evidence seen so far and the three-decade reputation of Anshu Prakash indicate that the assault did indeed take place. So that fact is not a point of debate. Now the chief minister’s own aide V.K. Jain has asserted quite unequivocally that Prakash was manhandled.”

    “So that fact is not a point of debate?”

    Really? That’s enough to show Shekar Gupta is neatly mixing facts and opinions like Whisky and Coke on a winter evening. All those who have spoken against AAP and AK Govt there are Central Govt appointed Civil Servants. Why should anyone take them seriously given how spineless they are when standing up to to the political powers?

    To me this whole thing is a political hitjob by the Modi Govt to shift the focus away from Nirav Modi scam

  7. Look how hurriedly he is down voting kejriwal at the end while being neutral on RG and Modi . Your bias is clearly visible. You all ‘establishment’ people are desperately wanting AAP blood.

  8. Shekhar is known for his biased reporting…no need to take him seriously..
    He is OK with establishment which can rule nicely without caring damn about common man…
    He is sophisticated biased journalist …

  9. This comment is fir all those who felt this article is biased and is anti AAP or pro Modi because I found this articles very balanced and neutral. While reading comments felt need of writing this in defence of Shekhar Gupta.
    Please don’t write if this has happened at Yogi’s house. The reality is it has never happened even during tenure of Mulayam and Laloo. You beat a CS? What is the necessity of courts then Sir? If you feel a particular official is biased get him removed using Constitutional means. Did not Kejrival know that Delhi is a half state with limited power and that too will be curtailed when you have a hostile govt at center. If you can not rule Delhi because Center is not letting you function contest 2019 general election and come in center, teach Modi a lesson. Send him back to Gujarat. But you know you are not capable. Voters who did not give you Punjab will also not allow you at center.
    Even if I consider hypothetical case which I should not have been, what if it had happened at Yogi’s residence? It entirely depends on the gutts of particular system whether he is concerned more about his career or self respect. Perhaps he would also not have received the overwhelming support from association as happened in this case. But just because Yogi will allowed to let go because of his parties dominance over coutries Kejrival should also be absolved? Means if Yogi or any other chief minister was not convicted for a murder abslove me also of my murder charges? What a ridiculous argument being put forth and supposedly from new generation which should be expecting benchmark politics from people who had emerged from a popular movement. Let’s be a logical citizen and voter who doesnt blidnly follow a particular politician and keep repeating his argument but also searches motive behind their reasoning.

    • “Please don’t write if this has happened at Yogi’s house. The reality is it has never happened even during tenure of Mulayam and Laloo. You beat a CS? What is the necessity of courts then Sir? If you feel a particular official is biased get him removed using Constitutional means.”

      No officer would dare to make such false allegations against those leaders because they know the consequences. They can go against AAP because they know Modi will support them. Your entire argument is based on the premise that the attack happened which is ridiculous. There is no real proof to say it happened other than A’s words vs B’s words.

      Look at the ‘video proof’ SG is talking about. The officer is happily walking after the meeting without any signs of an attack.

      “Send him back to Gujarat. But you know you are not capable. Voters who did not give you Punjab will also not allow you at center”

      Not easy to defeat Corrupt and Communal leaders without endless funding from crony capitalists . Stop making pointless philosophical arguments

      • See if you are completely engrossed by Kejriwal style of functioning then there is no point of discussion. But if you could for a moment remove your enchantment from AAP then please read following.
        Yes I completely agree had this happened in any of the BJP ruled state perhaps he would not have dared to report this. Even if he had dared perhaps he hadn’t got overwhelming support from his fraternity that he got in this case. Perhaps this case would also not have been widely reported as is happening now.
        But the reality is such incidents has never happened post independence even by these might wielding parties CM’s. Yes they were punished by way of transfers and punishment posting but such humiliating instance is entirely new.
        Now you say he is “happily” walking. Yes he can be seen walking. But this adjective “happily” reflects your enchantment for AAP style of functioning. I did not see laughing or any stench of happiness from footage available in public domain. Please share if you have HD video available where he can be seen laughing. Now coming to how he was walking a argument repeatedly put by Aatishi Malerna. Com on he did not say they broke his leg. He just said he was assaulted which means physically attacked.
        Now what is the basis of me believing in his allegation. I am not a judge to prove and pronounce someone guilty. Neither I will seek a objective proof to establish the truth. I am simple voter who is free to make his own opinion. I just go through the antecedents of both AAP and CS.
        I have seen the departure of Mayank Gandhi, Prashant Bhushan, intellectuals like Yadav for their alleged anti party activity. They are yet to join any other party. They have always had left leaning and have been anti BJP. Then how anti party activity? They were literally thrown out. I am of opinion that all those people who had potential to sit next/parallel to “The One man” were thrown at different stages. I don’t find Kejriwal accomodative, he is intentional who just can not tolerate a different point of view.
        On the other had you had CS, who had received support from likes of ex CEC S.Y Quereshi and DGP of Kashmir who has been known for openly airing anti BJP view at times. Leave aside overwhelming support from IAS association. Even few media org who have always been critical of current ruling party, are finding difficult to defend this act.
        P.S-So let’s be a good voter before being party/politician sympathizer. I have been fan of both Delhi CM’s and Current PM’s fan at one stage.

  10. Please don’t write what if it has happened at Yogi’s house. The reality is it has never happened even during tenure of Mulayam and Laloo. Yes officials has been implicated or even killed for their principaled stand but no CS so far was humiliated in this manner at CM house? What is the necessity of courts and Constitution then Sir? If you feel a particular official is biased get him removed using Constitutional means. Did not Kejrival know that Delhi is a half state with limited power and that too will be curtailed when you have a hostile govt at center. If you can not rule Delhi because Center is not letting you function contest 2019 general election and come in center, teach Modi a lesson. Send him back to Gujarat. But you know you are not capable. Voters who did not give you Punjab will also not allow you at center.
    Let’s consider hypothetical case which I should not have been, what if it had happened at Yogi’s residence? It entirely depends on the gutts of particular officer whether he is concerned more about his career or self respect. Perhaps he would also not have received the overwhelming support from association as happened in this case. But just because Yogi or any other CM was allowed to let go because of his parties dominance Kejrival should also be absolved? Means if Yogi or any other chief minister was not convicted for a murder abslove me also of my murder charges? What a ridiculous argument being put forth and supposedly from new generation which should be expecting benchmark politics from people who had emerged from a popular movement. Let’s be a logical citizen and voter who doesnt blidnly follow a particular politician and keep repeating his argument but also searches motive behind their reasoning before being sympathisers of political parties or politicians.

  11. What a shameless post . Talking against a government that successfully gives equal justice to its people.
    On the other side shamelessly justifying a mass murder who allowed all looters escape the country.
    This dirty drama was played to divert people’s attention from the pathetic failures of Modi.

  12. How much leverage and excuses would you give AAP by calling them street fighters ? Street fighters are much better than the team of AAP goons who have become mad after getting such a devastating majority. They don’t know how to handle it now. You are blaming centre for not allowing these bloody people to work. The result is for all of you to see. Today they assaulted CS of their own state. Just imagine any distantly similar action by BJP leaders and what had been your reactions – murder of democracy. In fact,more than AAP goons, you people are responsible fir such a low in politics because just to oppose BJP, you had supported any “gali ka gunda” in the name of democracy. Shame on you people who still try to belittle this episode of utter disgust.

  13. Gupta, a failed aspirant for the IAS, and notorious for his dishonest paid-journalism, is scarcely credible on this subject. Kejriwal has proved he is utterly unfit to hold any public office, let alone that of a Chief Minister. He has been complicit in the assault on a Government servant on duty, and that too in his own premises and own presence as Chief Minister. He deserves to be dismissed immediately. Slimey corrupt apologists like Gupta should shut up.

  14. Shekar writes with just that right amount of sophistry, attempting to show he is balanced, but the irony is how it shows his partisanship. He lost his nerve after the muppets came to power in 2014 and he is stuck in the purgatory of fear, but let’s face it Shekar was always more of a celebrity rather than a journalist and now he has mutated into a journalist for celebrities.

  15. Mr Shekhar Gupta’s dirty, biased mind is showing through the article. Not that it is something new, but just saying.

  16. Sekhar was candid in portraying the immaturity of AAP Chief Minister, following man handling of the “senior, soft-spoken and much-liked” Chief Secretary. The media trial is on expected lines.

    But the article looks biased without sighting an instance or two of bureaucrats roughing shoulders with well meaning politicians. Moreover no view on Governance of Delhi is complete without mentioning the failure of the AAP Government despite wonderful backing by well intentioned GoI. In such a hopeless situation I wonder how far it’s proper to squarely put the blame on the AAP Government. If at all such an ugly incident took place, then it wasn’t surely meant to further someone’s personal grudge.

  17. The practice of blaming politicians is not new. The “opinion makers” of India – the bada babus – leave no stone unturned to hardwire the nation in believing that we are all so much poorer for having given the reins of power to these uncouth, unschooled, corrupt, rogue and criminal crowd of netas. Over the years, this paint has stuck. It is taken for granted that politicians are the scoundrels. But hold it. Who as between the politician and the babu, is accountable to be people? Transfers are the worst that a neta in power can do. Unless the babu world begins to self-correct, to hold its own accountable, and to deliver, one can expect more of such incidents. I find Shekhar Gupta very good. Perhaps, he did not make it to the IAS and continues to nurse a blind regard for the babus. Good for him! But spare us the high moral tone.

  18. CS is suppose to be most competent LAW AWARE person. His 3 decade reputation is endangered by mere fact, he did not raise alarm there and then. CM house is camped by police, seems in clip too. CS is as good as CM. Why not raising then ? There and then CS could have closed AK chapter once for all. But did not. MLC after many many hours. Not showing his face to Media, if scars were there. MLC can be fake not big thing.

    • It will take days for a person of CS stature to recover from this scar. It needs a lot of thought and encouragement from fellow fraternity and family members to report such crime because it will put his all hard earned reputation to media scrutiny. So it’s never a easy task. He had reported this to LG very next hour. As to why he did not come to media, Sir there are certain conduct rules and few convention which compels administrator’s from open agitation. The day honest IAS/IPS will begin disclosing things in open as to how they are abused through transfers and suspension because of their principled stand there will be all chaos. it is maturity of 2-3% honest and law abiding official that countries structures are functioning well. So before you act as political parties spokesman try to live life of honest official. Your comment is same like why did girl and family took 3-4 days in reporting rape. Was it really rape or afterthought to arm-twist and wrest some compensation.

  19. Shekhar Gupta’s dislike for Kejriwal & AAP is evident. He is confident that CS is upright, gentle & vouch for his integrity. That implies Kejriwal is lying. How many occasions does MrGupta knows of when Kejriwal lied & used violence to get things done. Be fairer & decent MrGupta

  20. Considering how the BJP has gone about vandalizing so many of the democratic institutions of the country, the police raid on the CMs residence is very, very serious. Let us, for argument’s sake, accept that the CS was slapped. Is a raid the answer to that? I’m afraid India is descending not into a 2nd Emergency, but something much worse. How could Shekhar Gupta miss this? Are Kejriwal and AAP really the problems with all their faults? The very serious question is not only of why the CS was slapped, but what is happening to democracy in India.

  21. There is one point,that has to be considered.The Chief Secretary has proved that he is not agood officer.He should have behaved more intelligently .If aC.S.is beaten,it shows his lack of handling difficult situations.

    • Idl0t..Can u decide when a dog bites u just on seeing it ?..Both MLAs should be tried and convicted and Kejruddin has to apologize openly

    • Unjustified and biast comment: It is assumed that C S is a good offcer who did not compromise with the diktat of the M L As and that was what made the Delhi M L As to slap the C S .

  22. Two wrongs do not make a right. The AAP state government in Delhi is having a torrid constitutional time. It can do the best it can within these constraints and take its case to the people, who are those most affected by this political standoff. However, nothing, nothing at all can justify the manner in which the CS, a thorough gentleman was treated. More than criminal proceedings, this case calls for genuine contrition and a heartfelt apology.

  23. Any proof as to what actually transpired there? And even if it was for advertisements, can we please have a compariosn of what BJP spends and what AAP spends? At Delhi airport I have seen Modi rooting for Air India!

    • When you do the comparison, please take into account that BJP is in power in 19 states as well as in the centre. Hence naturally it’s advertisements will be more.

  24. What about the mainstream moderation? Accusing former Prime Minister helping the bugbear of RSS, calling an opposition party termites and distorting the history of freedom struggle indications of moderation. Above all, dishonest obeisance to the Constitution is being accepted as a mark of moderation without disowning the views of Savarkar and Golwalkar about the Hindu “Nation” and the “Constitution” is another sign of moderation, perhaps?

  25. see how guptaji is using kid gloves to deplore kejriwal’s criminal act – just imagine what would have been his tone and tenor if the the chief secretary of UP made a complaint that he was physically assaulted by a few ruling party MLA at yogi adityanath’s residence in his presence – in such a case nothing short of yogi’s resignation would have been enough to restore democracy in the country – different strokes for different folks – indeed

    • The reason for the kid gloves is because AAP is essentially a media created party, with people like Shekhar Gupta in the forefront. Hence any indictment of AAP is an indictment of its cheerleaders in the media. The media is fond of showing the mirror to others, but not to itself. That is one of the reasons why media is now treated as more as a source of entertainment rather than of any serious political analysis.

  26. There can be no doubt that you don’t call the CS to your home at midnight and then subject him to abuse. But it’s a pity that Shekhar Gupta did not go further: did the CS really block ration disbursal to needy people as claimed by AAP? If yes, then that is equally serious (though of course it does not justify the abuse). Being a nice and popular officer does not mean anything. If the slap was bad enough, the police raid on the CMs residence was even worse. It simply shouldn’t have happened. There were other ways to get the tapes. Has Shekhar forgotten the Emergency?

    • So Bhatia Jee what basically you are saying is because an official is corrupt let’s a man who has taken oath to protect and preserve constitution of India(CM) has right to thrash and punish him? So let’s disband courts and allow Kejrival to dispense justice.
      To your second argument, Just because someone happen to be CM/Dy CM his house should not be searched or he should not be questioned? On one side we say high and mighties are not being questioned and when questioned why my politician and not others?

      • Chandan ji: I think you didn’t read my posting. And I start by saying that I’m not of any party.

        In the first sentence itself I said that you don’t abuse a CS. How did you miss that?

        Second point you missed in my post: raiding a residence of a CM on the basis of this is not democratic, especially when there is no proof.

        Even if the proof is there, there are other ways to get justice. I hope you know that a warrant is required to enter someone’s house. I don’t think the Delhi police got it.

        And today CBI arrested PC’s son. So they let Mallaya and Modi escape so easily. But get anyone who is against them.

    • “However if a crime is committed in a closed room , it should be ensured that the crime investigating team should not visit the crime site if it belongs to a V.I.P particularly if the crime has been committed in the presence of the said VI.P. , without a search warrant from a competent court or a valid permission from a so called self proclaimed intellectual” Unfortunately Cr.P.c. of India dose not have the above provision.

      • It’s dangerous for India that so many people are making so many simple errors. Do you really think that the police can raid your home simply because you give two slaps to someone? What has VIPs got to do with this? Wow! Indian democracy is in danger, in serious danger if this is the logical level of the best people it has.

  27. The issue was release of advertisements. The issue of rations was a fig leaf. The latest episode is yet another proof that AAP is not mature enough to rule even a half state like Delhi.

    • Any proof as to what actually transpired there? And even if it was for advertisements, can we please have a compariosn of what BJP spends and what AAP spends? At Delhi airport I have seen Modi rooting for Air India!

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