New Delhi: The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which has supported the Modi government on many issues in the past, joined hands with Opposition parties in the Lok Sabha Thursday to criticise the proposed amendments to the IAS (Cadre) Rules, and urged the Centre to “revisit it immediately”.
Speaking during the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address, Pinaki Misra, BJD parliamentary party leader in the Lower House called it a very “dangerous” and “damaging” situation.
“The entire issue of IAS cadre rules, which the government now wants to revamp and bring about in such a way that the central government can pull out any IAS, IPS, central government officers from the states and decide as and when they want that these officers must serve the central government… is a very dangerous situation as far as India’s federal polity is concerned,” said Misra.
“I believe all the states have together written about this and I think the honourable PM must be mindful about it. The states have uniformly, no matter which… am sure his own party CMs, his own state governments cannot be party to this because this is a very, very damaging issue. It goes to the root of the federal structure in the country and ought not to be seen through,” Misra added.
With this, the BJD joined nine non-BJP ruled states that have opposed the proposed amendments brought by the Modi government, which gives overriding powers to the Centre in deciding central deputation of All India Services officers.
One of the few Opposition parties perceived to be friendly with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, the BJD has of late taken different positions than those of the Centre on issues like the farm laws, which were withdrawn by the Modi government after a 13-month long farmer agitation.
The Naveen Patnaik-led party has bailed out the ruling party on a number of occasions since the Modi government came to power in 2014, be it supporting demonetisation of high-value currency, rolling out the goods and service tax, triple talaq bill, dilution of Article 370 and the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
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The proposed changes and opposition
In a letter to the chief secretaries of all state governments, dated 12 January and titled ‘Proposal for Amendments in IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954’, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said an officer whom the Centre wants on deputation would “stand relieved” from his or her respective cadre, even if the state government concerned disagrees or doesn’t give its consent within the specified time.
West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are among the states that have opposed the amendments so far.
On its part, the Centre has argued that the proposed amendments have been necessitated by the fact that states weren’t relieving enough number of IAS officers for central deputation that affected its functioning.
BJD, TMC, NCP attacks Centre over other issues too
Misra also cornered the Modi government over unemployment, jobless growth and inflation. He said this is the first time in 75 years that India saw unemployment riots, referring to last month’s students’ protest across Bihar and Uttar Pradesh over the way Railway Recruitment Board exams were conducted.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mahua Moitra also launched a scathing attack on the government over the proposed amendments to IAS cadre rules.
“You fear a future where bureaucrats of the states cannot be bullied by the Centre. So you amend the IAS cadre rules. This fear of irrelevance in the future makes you behave the way you do,” she said.
Moitra also tore into the government for paying lip service to India’s freedom fighters.
“The President’s address refers to Netaji on multiple occasions. I will remind this Republic that this is the same Netaji who said that the Government of India should have an absolutely neutral and impartial attitude towards all religions. Would Netaji have approved the Haridwar Dharam Sansad that issued blood curdling calls for Muslim genocide?” she asked, referring to the alleged hate speeches made by Hindu seers against Muslims in December 2021.
The TMC leader also accused the Modi government of wanting to “alter history”.
“You (the government) fear a India which is comfortable in its own skin. Which is comfortable with conflicting realities. So, you fear an India where a Jain boy can hide from home and enjoy a kathi kebab on a street cart in Ahmedabad… So what do you do? You forbid non-vegetarian street food in Gujarat’s municipalities,” Moitra said.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule also stressed the problem of unemployment, where more than 1.25 crore applicants applied for 35,000 job vacancies in Railways. Sule questioned the ever-changing job creation target of the Centre — from 2 crore jobs in last year’s Budget to just 60 lakhs in this year’s Budget.
Also read: States should retain veto on Centre’s request for IAS officers, retired civil servants say