OPINION
KARNATAK NATAK IN PUNJAB
Karnataka in Punjab — How Speaker Rana KP Singh is in no hurry to take a decision on resignations of MLAs
18.07.19 - kanwar manjit singh
Karnataka in Punjab — How Speaker Rana KP Singh is in no hurry to take a decision on resignations of MLAs



As shenanigans in the Karnataka Assembly are exploding on the national political scene, a similar drama in Punjab has gone either largely unreported or shockingly under-reported. Several Punjab MLAs have resigned from the Assembly and some had even quit the political party on whose ticket they were elected, but the Speaker is sitting on their resignations for weeks and months.

While the Karnataka Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar had to be nudged and prodded by the Supreme Court to get moving and either accept or reject the resignations, the Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana KP Singh is merrily postponing the decision even as resignations of five MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are now piled up on his desk.

In Karnataka, the political crisis arose when 15 MLAs had resigned over a short period of four days, and the resignations were clearly linked to efforts to pull the rug from beneath HD Kumaraswamy government’s feet. In Punjab, the resignation drama has been going on at a more leisurely pace, and neither the MLAs seem to be in a hurry to ensure their resignations are accepted nor is the Opposition making much noise about it.

HS Phoolka, who was the Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly and one of the most prominent faces of the AAP in Punjab, resigned as an MLA on October 12 last year, that is more than nine months ago.

Phoolka had claimed that he had resigned because he was disgusted with the failure of the Amarinder Singh government to initiate action against former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and retired DGP Sumedh Singh Saini for their alleged role in incidents of sacrilege of the holy Sikh scriptures.

The lawyer-turned-politician, who proclaims himself as the warrior-in-chief fighting for justice in the 1984 anti-Sikh killings related cases in Delhi, had repeatedly issued warnings that he was set to resign. In fact, his decision to quit the Assembly was a highly public one, since he had earlier threatened on three separate occasions that he would quit if decisive follow up action was not taken in the wake of the Justice (Retd) Ranjit Singh Commission's findings.

So keen was Phoolka to quit as an MLA that a few weeks later, in December last year, he actually met the Speaker, Rana KP Singh, and submitted a letter to him, informing him in no uncertain terms that he had no intention of reconsidering his resignation. 

"I have sent my resignation from the post of MLA vide letter dated 12.10.2018, but I have not received any communication from you regarding the same...Today, I am appearing in person to communicate that I have resigned as a Member of Legislative Assembly and request you to kindly accept my resignation. After accepting my resignation, kindly inform the House during ensuing Session which is commencing from December 13," Phoolka gave in writing to the Speaker.

Strangely, and since then, the Punjab Assembly Speaker has been considering the resignation, and Phoolka seems to be in no hurry to press for it. The Speaker has neither accepted the resignation, nor rejected it. 

Meanwhile, Phoolka, who clearly could not have forgotten that he had quit four months ago and had also made it clear to the Speaker that he has no intention of rethinking his resignation, landed up in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to attend the budget session.

The Speaker, who, one presumes, on his part, would not have forgotten that Phoolka had quit the Assembly in October 2018 and had submitted in writing that he would do no rethink over his resignation, made Phoolka a member of an important Punjab Assembly Committee on June 14 this year.

Phoolka’s successor as Leader of the Opposition, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, quit the Aam Aadmi Party in January this year, two days after Phoolka quit AAP, and formed his Punjab Ekta Party. On April 25 this year, Khaira sent his resignation as MLA to the Speaker to contest LS election from Bathinda. Surprisingly, the Speaker seemed to be in no hurry to take any decision, and, in fact, has now nominated him as a member of a House panel. 

Khaira’s associate, Baldev Singh, the MLA from Jaitu, had also quit AAP to join the PEP and had fought the Lok Sabha polls as a PEP candidate. His resignation is also on Speaker KP’s table.

As of now, the Speaker, one believes, is trying very hard to find out whether Messer’s Shri Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Shri Baldev Singh, Shri HS Phoolka, Shri Amarjit Singh Sandoha and Shri Nazar Singh Manshahia, all MLAs, have quit of their own volition without any fear or pressure. By all estimates, he is taking a little too long.

Meanwhile, the constituencies of these MLAs remain unrepresented in the Punjab Assembly since people cannot elect a new MLA because the earlier one’s resignation has still not been accepted. There is no indication that a decision would be taken by the time the next session of the Punjab Assembly is convened in September.

The precedent goes a little deep in time. Manpreet Singh Badal had quit as an MLA and was thrown out of the Akali Dal in October 2010, formed a new political party with much fanfare and contested election but remained the MLA of Gidderbaha since the Speaker took no action on his resignation. 

Now that Speaker has nominated Khaira, Baldev Singh, Amarjit Singh Sandoha (Rupnagar) and Nazar Singh Manshahia (Mansa) as MLAs of various house committees, the JD(S) and Congress in Karnataka should be feeling envious of the arrangement in Punjab. Meanwhile, Sandoha and Manshahia have joined the Congress, having defected hours before the 2019 election.

While the Speaker in Karnataka has a Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose pondering over how fast and by when, and adopting which procedures, the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly is to take a decision on the MLAs’ resignations, the Punjab Assembly Speaker is under no pressure — not even from the MLAs who have quit.

A simple reading of the anti-defection law, as the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution is popularly known, says any MLA who leaves a political party or takes a public position against own party can be understood to have "voluntarily given up the membership of Assembly, and that the Speaker is empowered to disqualify such an MLA.”

A news item in the Hindustan Times’ edition of May 7, while reporting Sandoha's joining of the Congress, said, "Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana KP Singh, who represents the Anandpur Sahib assembly seat, is learnt to have been instrumental in the getting Sandoha to switch over."

The Tribune reported on May 4 that "Today, he (Sandoha) left for Chandigarh in the morning along with Anandpur Sahib MLA and Punjab Speaker Rana KP Singh and with few of his confidants making it clear for the locals that he was set to join the Punjab’s ruling party.”

Rana KP Singh is a very conscientious legislator himself, as was evidenced by his initiative to voluntarily undergo a dope test at the Mohali Civil Hospital, a day after CM Amarinder Singh had offered to do the same in response to pressure from certain quarters that politicians should undergo dope tests. One can assume that he is currently neck deep in carrying out due diligence about the genuineness of the resignations before him with the same alacrity. 

Political pundits can discuss till cows come home why the Punjab Assembly Speaker needs months to mull over the resignations of MLAs while the Karnataka Assembly Speaker must take a decision in a matter of days or hours, with the Supreme Court breathing down his neck. One expects that Hon’ble Rana KP Singh will at least be more sure about the MLA whom he accompanied to execute the defection.

_______________________________________________________________

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_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT
 




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Rahul Gandhi’s big favour to Congress but do the Congressis realise it?
13.07.19 - VIPIN PUBBY
Rahul Gandhi’s big favour to Congress but do the Congressis realise it?



The Grand Old Party of India, the Congress, is battling one of its worst crisis. The humiliating defeat of the party at the hands of Bharatiya Janata Party led by Narendra Modi in the recent Lok Sabha elections has further demoralised the party.

The singular good fallout of the defeat is the resignation of Rahul Gandhi as the president of the party. That’s the only good step he has taken in the recent past and has so far remained adamant on not taking it back. It is also good that he had taken the blame on himself for the defeat.
 
While several other factors had led to the victory of BJP, the singular factor that went against the Congress was its president as he proved no match to Modi. There was simply no credible alternative.

Indeed it has been over 15 years that Rahul Gandhi has been in active politics but he has refused to learn or grow. This is despite the best of talent available to him for guidance and direction. Evidently he did not even had the intelligence to chose better and saner ones. He allowed to be guided by people whose capabilities were questionable. Over the years his ability to deliver speech may have improved slightly but the content remains as poor as ever.
-----------
By resigning from the post of party president Rahul Gandhi may have given the best gift to the party. Now it appears to be the time for other leaders, including the veterans, to make a mess of it.
-----------
Several of his actions and steps in the past have been, to say the least, immature. One stark image that stands out is his dramatically cutting into a press conference and tearing up copies of a Bill passed by the party’s own government led by Manmohan Singh. Besides the point that the Bill was passed by the government run by his own party, public humiliation of a venerated leader like Manmohan Singh could be the handiwork of only a highly immature person. He could have taken up privately with the prime minister if he was so worked up by the provisions of the Bill. Watch video:


Now coming to the recent Lok Sabha elections. Whoever told him to run the campaign "chowkidar chor hai” against Modi could have given the most stupid advise. The problem is that he took the advise and tried to make it an election issue.

Whatever differences one may have with Modi and the BJP or the government, very few would point a finger at his personal integrity. The only accusation that Rahul Gandhi was able to point at was the Rafale deal. There may be some nepotism or favouritism in the deal but no one has been able to pinpoint any exchange of money like in the case of Augusta Westland.

Personal financial integrity and the fact that none of the ministers in the Modi Government was accused of any corruption were among the strongest factors in favour of Modi led BJP in the recent elections and Rahul chose to hit them on it rather than their weakest points - that of inflation and rising unemployment. These may have ensured more public support than a personalised attack on Modi. The slogan "chowkidar chor hai” failed to convince people that Modi or his government was personally corrupt. 

More so, the slogan was ironically coming from a party which has faced the maximum charges of corruption including in the Bofors case, Augusta Westland, 2G spectrum, Commonwealth Games and several other scandals.

Even Rahul Gandhi himself did not appear to be convinced by the slogan as he appeared to deliver the much rehearsed, albeit over-acted, slogan at all his rallies. Neither several other party leaders appeared to be convinced. That may have led to Rahul’s charge in his resignation letter that he did not find support for it even from other senior leaders. In fact that lack of support should have given him the clue that he was barking up the wrong tree.

By resigning from the post of party president he may have given the best gift to the party. Now it appears to be the time for other leaders, including the veterans, to make a mess of it. The way some of them have been pleading before him is shameful and shows their bankruptcy. There is no dearth or talent in the party. It only needs to be recognised.

Given the mental framework of the leaders and supporters of the party, it would be really difficult for them to keep the Gandhis away from spotlight in the party, but it would do them immense good if other talented leaders are allowed to take the derailed party back on the tracks.
 

In the meantime they can only hope that Rahul Gandhi gets himself some good advisors who may have the ability to groom him in the long run despite all the constraints and the undue delay.
 

 

 

(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.)

 

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties 
A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION
BAD, BAD WOMAN! 

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT
 




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The moribund left
Is it time to write off the left?
06.07.19 - Irfan Husain
Is it time to write off the left?



PEOPLE who vote against their economic self-interest are a bit like sheep queuing up for a visit to the slaughterhouse.

And yet this is what is happening around the world: voters are electing right-wing, populist leaders who cut taxes on the rich, slash subsidies, and impose vicious cuts on social spending. Left-of-centre parties that push for the nationalisation of utilities, and greater spending on human resources, are forced on the defensive due to the perception that they are profligate with public finances.

In the UK, the ruling Conservative Party has continued to lead in the polls despite imposing savage cuts in social spending over the last decade. Labour has struggled to find support for its socialist agenda. Its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is subjected to vile attacks by the right-wing press, and is widely viewed as unfit to rule. So despite the long-running Brexit crisis triggered by the Conservatives, and the government’s pro-business policies, Labour remains mistrusted by large sections of the population.

Across developed economies, the top one per cent continue to accumulate obscene wealth while the majority have seen their incomes stagnate. In America, Trump slashed taxes for the rich, and while job-creation has been boosted, incomes have not.

In Pakistan, too, we have the case of two previous governments that, for all their many faults, oversaw economic growth ranging between 4pc and 6pc over the last decade. But in last year’s polls, many people voted for a leader whose grasp of economics and public finance is shaky at best. The result is that the economy is in a tailspin, thousands of jobs have been lost, and inflation is skyrocketing.

Indian voters, too, have re-elected Narendra Modi with an even larger majority despite his patchy first term. It would seem that his chest-thumping nationalism, and his support for the BJP ideology of Hindutva, overcame the electorate’s doubts about his economic performance. In the process, the more liberal Congress Party was handed a severe mauling.

So as the left remains on the back foot, is it time to write it off as a political and social force? One problem for progressive parties globally is that they have been unable to forge a narrative to counter the neoliberal ideology that is now the global consensus.

This prevailing doctrine encompasses lower taxes on the rich, less protection for labour and total support for globalisation. Such policies are attractive for the rich who, in turn, back politicians espousing these measures. However, it is a fact that globalisation has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty in developing countries. Opposing this economically beneficial model is difficult for progressive politicians, despite its exploitation of labour.

Privatisation is another minefield for the left. On the one hand, we have public-sector enterprises losing billions, and being kept on life support with taxpayer-funded subsidies; on the other, there is the prospect of many jobs being lost should an entrepreneur take over the business.

The question that remains unanswered by the left is whether such enterprises are being run for the good of workers or the public. In Pakistan, we have the examples of the Steel Mills, PIA and the railways, to name only three.

Under the dominant neoliberal consensus, governments should not be in the business of business at all. Any regulations should be minimal, and the corporate sector should be allowed to thrive. The profits they make will be reinvested, and thus this wealth will trickle down as more jobs are created.

But things don’t work out the way this virtuous circle suggests. Investors demand ever-growing dividends, and corporations work to maximise profits so their share prices remain high. In this pursuit, workers’ rights, consumers’ interests and the environment are very low on the CEO’s priority list.

Perhaps it is the weak and vulnerable who suffer most with the decline of the left. Neoliberals insist that the poor are poor because they lack drive and motivation. They oppose any government intervention to support the less privileged, or, indeed, any kind of free public health and educational programme. Of course, they realise they won’t get much public support for these hard-line policies, and have modified their position to gain votes for the rest of their agenda.

In socially backward countries like Pakistan, religious minorities and women are victims of shocking daily abuse. Right-wing parties like the PML-N and PTI might pay lip service to the need to protect them. But, for all its real and perceived flaws, the PPP has been the one party to have at least spoken about the rights of minorities. It has some outstanding women and non-Muslims in its ranks, and shows the importance of humanity in politics.

To reinvent itself, the left will need to come to grips with the rapid changes taking place in the economic landscape, and develop a powerful narrative to counter the neoliberal model.
Courtesy: dawn.com
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties 
A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION
BAD, BAD WOMAN! 

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT
 




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ONE NATION ONE ELECTION
Can India do with just one poll?
29.06.19 - VIPIN PUBBY
Can India do with just one poll?



Prime minister Narendra Modi’s declaration that his government would set up a committee to examine and give recommendations on one-nation-one-election proposal has led to a debate with Congress and some other major opposition parties opposing the proposal straight away. The issue needs to be debated and a consensus must be reached.

It is a proposal which, if implemented, would radically change the political system in the country and would require amendments to the constitution. The moot question is whether it is desirable for a country which prides itself for unity in diversity to go in for such a political system and whether the benefits would outweigh the losses to the democratic system of the country.
-----------
If the government at the Centre falls for whatever reasons and there is no alternative? Shall it lead to Presidential rule in the country till the next elections are held?
-----------
The idea by itself is not new. One of the earliest suggestions had actually come from the Election Commission which had suggested way back in 1983 that such a system be worked out. Subsequently the Law Commission headed by Justice B P Jeevan Reddy, had stated in Its report in 1999 that "we must go back to the situation where the elections to Lok Sabha and all the Legislative Assemblies are held at once”.

There are arguments both in favour and against the idea of holding simultaneous elections.

Those in favour of holding simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and State Assemblies argue that it would drastically reduce the massive expenditure that is currently incurred for the conduct of separate elections. They also argue that frequent elections cause policy paralysis resulting from the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct during election time and that the normal governance gets affected as governments get into the election mode and put on hold developmental projects.

Those against the idea point to the complexities of such an exercise including the practicality of implementation. They think such a measure would help the party in power at the centre at the cost of the regional parties. The most important argument is : What would happen if the state governments fall or in cases where such governments are dismissed for failing to maintain law and order. Suppose it happens within one year of the election. Would it mean that the particular state would come under Central rule and would remain so for the next four years ? Even worse would be the scenario if the government at the Centre falls for whatever reasons and there is no alternative ? Shall it lead to Presidential rule in the country till the next elections are held ?

After all, out of the 17 Lok Sabhas since 1952, seven were dissolved ahead of schedule — in 1971, 1980, 1984, 1991, 1998, 1999 and 2004. There were only two Lok Sabha elections, in 1952 and 1957, when elections were held simultaneously for Lok Sabha and state Assemblies. In the recent 2019 elections, only four State Assemblies went for elections with the Lok Sabha elections. These were Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

Then there are also the constitutional provisions which need to be rectified. The Law Commission headed by Justice B S Chauhan held in 2018 that simultaneous elections could not be held within the existing framework of the Constitution. These could be held together "through appropriate amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act 1951, and the Rules of Procedure of Lok Sabha and state Assemblies”. This would entail that at least 50 per cent of the states would have to ratify the constitutional amendments. 

The Opposition parties, including the Congress, are likely to remain opposed to the proposal. Congress had described the proposal as "impractical” and "unworkable”. The Trinamool Congress has declared that it was "anti-democratic and unconstitutional”, while the left parties had also questioned the practical aspects of the proposal. The government, if it persists with its proposal, shall have to wait until it has the numbers in Rajya Sabha to carry through the necessary amendments.

It is, however, advisable that the government makes an in-depth study and tries to evolve a national consensus. It shall have to come out with a water tight case with no ambiguity on the provisions and it must allay the fears of different political parties and citizens.

One way out for the time being could be acceptance of the suggestion mooted by the Law Commission in its draft report last year that all elections due in a calendar year be conducted together. Till now the Election Commission has the powers to order elections where Assembly elections are due within six months. One step at a time would be a better idea.
 

 

 

(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.)

 

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties 
A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION
BAD, BAD WOMAN! 

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

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Punjab needs an Accountability Commission to stem systemic governance decay
26.06.19 - Bir Devinder Singh*
Punjab needs an Accountability Commission to stem systemic governance decay



WITH THE institution of Lok Pal becoming defunct and the State Vigilance Bureau reduced to serve the political interests of the man at the helm, the entire accountability architecture in Punjab lies in a shambles. The daily news about vigilance sleuths catching petty officials pocketing a few hundred or thousand rupees seems like a burlesque theatre of sorts.  

Given the realities of the body polity in Punjab, talking about ‘Accountability’ seems asking for the moon, and one needs to remind the readers that this is where basic change in politics starts, unless we have made a permanent peace pact with eternal loose governance.

Any move aimed at resurrection and ending the systemic institutional decay would have to start with the idea of constituting an all powerful autonomous ‘State Accountability Commission’ for Punjab.

Such an institution can be set up under the State act, headed by none less than a retired Chief Justice of the High court or a retired Judge of the Supreme Court. The said Commission should have the statutory powers to evaluate the work and efficiency of all the political appointees who invariably enjoy extravagant status and draw huge salaries and perks from the State exchequer, often for doing no productive work for the State and its people.    
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Punjab needs an administrative architecture for a periodical appraisal of the performance of all political appointees. It must start from the CMO. 
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For such a comprehensive review, the Ministers could also be brought under the purview of the Accountability Commission. After all, there have to be checks and balances in place in the Westminster system of Parliamentary Governance that India borrowed from Britain. 

This would be possible only if a graspable and measurable assignment of work and duties for each political appointee is defined in his or her letter of appointment. Statutory rules must be framed and codified, either through subordinate legislation or by way of Government’s notification, entailing a periodical appraisal of the performance of such political appointees. 

The State Accountability Commission should be empowered to pass mandatory orders to remove any of these appointees, if found wanting in the discharge of their duties or found superfluous or a burden on the state exchequer. The State Legislature should also empower the ‘Accountability Commission’ to even recover the entire quantum of public money with penalty, spent on such appointees from the State treasury, in case any one of them is found guilty of any misconduct or wrongdoing.

Such a legislative measure has become essential for the transformation of the unwieldy office of the Chief Minister Punjab. At present, there is a huge battery of white elephants, unnecessarily parked in the CMO, and intriguingly, most of them are at loggerheads with each other, creating a terrible mess in the CMO in the absence of supervisory control and accountability mechanism. 

The Chief Minister, as of now, has four freelance advisors in the CMO. Mr. T.S. Shergill is in the rank of cabinet minister and others are in the rank of Minister of State. The CMO is overcrowded with a clumsy assortment of Secretaries, Political Secretaries and OSDs, most with no legitimate or codified power or responsibilities, whatsoever. 

Moreover, it’s too well known that Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh hardly attends his office in the Civil Secretariat at Chandigarh. The suffix OSD should be re-coined as OND (Officer on No Duty). Most amusingly, the Chief Minister’s office is yet to notify the time slot in the schedule of timings related to the CMO, thus failing to notify the general public as to when anyone can meet the Hon’ble Chief Minister for redressing any grievance.
 
Although India presumably views Pakistan as a failed State but the achievements of its National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which is dealing with some of the most corrupt top politicians, are highly commendable. It’s pertinent to mention here that Pakistan’s top politicians perceived to have indulged in mega corruption by misusing the State power while in office, are behind bars and facing trial before the accountability courts. They include Nawaz Sharif (former Prime Minister), Asif Ali Zardari (Former President) and their family members. Why can’t we put in place such a tough measure to deal with corruption and inefficiency in high places? Unfortunately, the fragile links in our system of jurisprudence have not only made the system notoriously slow but destined to fail in timely delivery, particularly when big-wigs are to be brought to justice and face trial.

I am of the considered view that such a sorry state of affairs could only happen in a failed State; and the most discernible symptoms of a failed state could be determined as the erosion of legitimate authority of the State to make collective decision, whereby the chain of command goes berserk. Besides, the inability of the Statecraft to provide public services to the last man standing in the queue is the final evidence. The obvious consequence of the wrecked chain of command was witnessed when the entire State’s might failed to rescue a two year old Fatehveer Singh out of the 150 ft deep borewell. That none has been held accountable for the trail of a botched up asymmetrical rescue operation despite public cries is something that should send us back to the drawing board to devise ways in which accountability of those at the helm could be fixed.

 
 

(*The author is a former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and a politician celebrated for his grasp on legislative affairs. The article is exclusive to Punjab Today.)

 
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT
 





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