With Governor N N Vohra literally tightening strings around otherwise at-ease government officials, the craving for a formal government is visible on their faces. Tasavur Mushtaq reports the mood from Civil Secretariat Jammu
The day starts well before the time for the officials of state government and lasts beyond the official timing. With political impasse continuing in the state, Governor N N Vohra is giving ‘tough time’ to administration down the line. More than the men around, the movement of files dominate the scene.
Clamping down on the lackadaisical attitude of the state functionaries, Vohra has ordered to have a manual register in all the offices in the civil secretariat for marking of the attendance. The same is forwarded to the General Administration Department (GAD) before 10 AM. Apart from officials working in other sections, the attendance is mandatory even for the personal section of administrative secretaries and other top officers. “This has happened for the first time that employees working in personal sections have to mark attendance,” Abdul Qayoom, Private Secretary of a senior bureaucrat told Kashmir Life.
An eyewitness said that one Commissioner Secretary to Government was making rounds to seek leave for going out of the state. Afraid of being reprimanded by Vohra, the said officer finally shelved the idea. “He (Governor) has kept us on the tenterhooks,” says a senior officer.
While talking to Kashmir Life, one secretary on the condition of anonymity said, “Even the Chief Secretary is not talking freely in the meetings as Governor is meticulously asking about everything.”
Seen with a notepad, taking details and setting deadlines, Vohra, officials say does not miss to review issues deliberated upon in the previous meetings. The newspaper cuttings raising different issues are forwarded to the concerned departments with a deadline to respond. “It seems he reads everything and subsequently forwards paper cuttings to concerned departments to have a feedback,” Muhammad Rafiq, a middle rung officer said.
A works department engineer says, “He was told the Governor has set deadline for a certain project with instructions that ‘on the said date his chopper will land exactly on the spot to know the status.’
Vohra takes strong note of ‘charges of corruption’ and has asked administrative secretaries to deal with them firmly. “I have reports that corruption has engulfed the system, I want an end to this,” Governor told a select gathering of the top officials.
He has told Chief Secretary to give impetus to the budget preparations while taking review himself on day-to-day basis.
According to insiders Vohra’s style of working and getting things done, has not gone down well with some former ministers.
A former BJP minister has sent a ‘warning message’ to the commissioner of the department of his former ministry “not to take decisions on important issues as I am coming back soon.”
The disposal of cases is taking place at good speed, but the ‘consideration of having elected government soon’ is also playing its part. There is some reluctance to decide relatively crucial issues as officials fear backlash from former ministers. “If they are back to their former ministries they will surely react,” a under Secretary to government wishing not to be named said.
On minister’s part, the sudden change of titles – from ‘honourable minister’ to ‘former minister’ is showing impact.
In a recent paid advertisement on January 26, one out-of-power senior BJP lawmaker mentioned ‘Independence day’ instead of ‘Republic day.’ Another lawmaker was heard saying, “Sab theekh chal raha tha, dekho kya hogaya (Everything was going smooth. See what has happened)”.
What is missing in the highest seat of governance-the civil secretariat-is the presence of people. Otherwise abuzz with crowds, there is an ‘uneasy’ calm. The canteen outside the gate of Civil Secretariat has thin attendance. Frequented by security personnel of the ministers and other important political figures, the canteen was a hangout place for visitors as well. “There is drastic decline in the sales as people have stopped coming here,” said the owner of the canteen.
In compliance with the GAD order, the personal staff of the former ministers, has joined back their feeding departments. While the gazetted cadre officers from outside have joined their parent departments, the contract of Public Relation Officers (PROs) as per order of GAD ceased on January 7, 2015 with salary being paid only up to day of death of former CM Mufti Sayeed.
Few people who used to accompany the former ministers without being on rolls are seen in the lawns either sipping tea or taking puff. At departmental level, various daily wagers and contractual employees of field departments currently working in civil secretariat are being repatriated. “They were here for being close to political parties, we are sending them back so that they work where they are meant to work,” a senior officer told Kashmir Life. “This has nothing to do with current situation. It was a long pending proposal.”
The recall notice State Garages has rendered many senior officers without vehicles. Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to a former senior minister had to get his personal vehicle from valley. Taking advantage of the political impasse, officers from Jammu utilize their time by attending to household chores or building/renovating their houses.
On the other hand, officers from Kashmir kill their time by shopping at different shopping malls in Jammu offering clearance sales. A few important aides of former senior ministers were reportedly seen paying obeisance at different Sufi shrines in Jammu and Punjab. With threads of faith tied firmly, they are hopeful of an end to this ‘impasse’!