Saturday, May 24, 2014


UPA leaves with a favour frenzy: Departing government hurries through new jobs and Lutyens' zone homes for its supporters

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi attends a memorial meet for her late husband Rajiv Gandhi with their son Rahul in New Delhi on Wednesday, the 23rd
death anniversary of the former PM
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi attends a memorial meet for her late husband Rajiv Gandhi with their son Rahul in New Delhi on Wednesday, the 23rd death anniversary of the former PM
It's all over for the United Progressive Alliance government, yet the dispensation is in no mood to cure itself from the scourge of unethical practices. 
Defying all sense of administrative propriety and political decency, the Congress-led UPA has been showering favours - from appointments, to transfers to posh Lutyens' zone bungalows - on its loyalists, even in its last few days. 
Nothing could deter the outgoing government - be it the Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha elections, or the electoral debacle - from behaving in such a preposterous manner to benefit its cronies. 
Official documents show that even while the Lok Sabha election results were being announced on May 16, the finance ministry, headed by P. Chidambaram, was busy issuing the transfer orders of as many as 148 Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers of the Income Tax Department.
Another five officers of the Central Customs and Excise Service, who were serving in the powerful slot of private secretaries to various ministers, also got their new postings as soon as they realised that the game was over for their political masters when the poll results came in on Friday. 
Appointments in other ministries, on that historic day, included that of Raghvendra Singh as the additional secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 
Dr Rajpal was also made medical superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital, in place of Dr B.D. Athani on May 16.
Later, on May 19, the finance ministry issued the transfer orders of another 11 IRS officers to coveted posts of the Income Tax Department in Mumbai, Delhi, and Hyderabad when it was already known that the prime minister–designate Narendra Modi would be meeting President Pranab Mukherjee the very next day to stake his claim to form the government.
Even on May 20, when Modi proceeded from the Central Hall in Parliament to meet the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the finance ministry in adjoining North Block issued the orders for the promotion of 104 officers of the Customs and Excise Department, from the Group B to the Group A ranks of assistant commissioners. 
Several senior officers are of the view that the outgoing finance minister should have left the transfers to the next government.
The P. Chidambaram-headed Finance Ministry was issuing transfer orders even as the LS results were being declared
The P. Chidambaram-headed Finance Ministry was issuing transfer orders even as the LS results were being declared
Senior officials also believe that some changes are required in the existing policy of transfers as even very junior officers are getting long tenures in metro cities without having gathered adequate experience in Tier II towns. 
"A more rule-based and transparent transfer policy would make the tax collection departments more efficient. A new government could have taken a call on the issue," a senior official told Mail Today.
And, it doesn't end there. Ashwin B. Pandya was appointed as the chairman of Central Water Commission and ex-officio secretary to the Government of India. He was holding additional charge of the post since November, 2013. 
Similarly, on May 6, Bhagwati Prasad Pandey was appointed as the additional secretary and financial adviser to the Department of Commerce under Ministry of Commerce and Industry. 
It's not just that the outgoing UPA government appointed Lt- Gen. Dalbir Singh as the new Army chief. Several other key appointments in security establishments were made, including that of Devendra Kumar Pathak as the director general of the Border Security Force. 
The appointment of Jammu and Kashmir Police DGP Ashok Prasad as the special director of the Intelligence Bureau also came in the second week of May, a few days before the declaration of poll results. 
"The government had come in for criticism for making several appointments even when the Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha elections had come into force. But it went a step further by not even relenting on the day of the counting of votes and continued it even when the official process was on to appoint the next prime minister," a senior official pointed out. 
The UPA government also showered the largesse of spacious bungalows in the prestigious Lutyens' zone to its favourite few, a mere three days before the voters wiped it out of power. 
At the last meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation (CCA), held on May 13, the government allotted the bungalow at 5 Janpath to Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and allowed Nandan Nilekani, the former chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India, to extend his occupation of a bungalow allotted to him as the Authority's chief. 
Renowned lawyer and former additional solicitor general K.T. S. Tulsi, who has represented Robert Vadra in his land deal cases, was allotted a Type VIII bungalow on Motilal Nehru Marg, sources claimed. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in February this year. 
CCA also allotted the bungalow housing the National Advisory Council at 2 Motilal Nehru Place to Rajya Sabha MP Murli Deora. 
Officials said that allocation of the spacious bungalow to Deora was made because he had served several terms in the two Houses, besides being a former Cabinet minister. 
Outgoing PM Manmohan Singh's adviser and senior bureaucrat TKA Nair has also been allowed to retain his Purana Qila residence till August, though he had to vacate it within a month of demitting office.
house that

A Rs 5,500 crore bomb

It wasn't just rewards the UPA pushed through on the cusp of its exit; there were shocks too. 
Just one day before results, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence slapped the Ahmedabad-based Adani group with a Rs 5,500 crore show-cause notice for alleged over-valuation of capital equipment imports. 
The development was not devoid of political significance, as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had, during his rallies, repeatedly attacked Adani group chairman Gautam Adani for allegedly financing Narendra Modi's campaign as part of quid pro quo arrangement.

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