The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gehlot woos workers

Jaipur, June 7: Halfway through the two-day chintan shivir (introspection camp) of the council of ministers to evolve a strategy for the Assembly election, the Congress government has decided to do away with the system of transfer of state employees depending on the recommendations of legislators.

Chief minister Ashok Gehlot told his ministers that they should not only keep in mind the legislators’ “desire” (recommendation), but give preference to the wishes of Congress workers in effecting transfers.

Electoral compulsion has forced the government to change the so-called “desire system” by which the legislators monopolised transfers and postings of government staff through their recommendations during the past four-and-a-half years.

As soon as the Congress government headed by Gehlot had taken over, the ministers were instructed by the chief minister to transfer and post state employees only on the basis of the “desire” of the party legislators.

This had “marginalised” the Congress workers — the party organisation, office bearers, and party leaders at lower levels — who resented the decision.

They had raised the issue, individually and collectively, at various party meetings, including those attended by AICC office bearers, and levelled allegations of “corruption”. They alleged that the transfers and postings had been turned into a lucrative “trade” by the elected representatives.

The issue dominated the marathon proceedings — from 9.30 am to 7.15 in the evening —on the first day of the camp that began yesterday at the Rajasthan Institute of Public Administration, popularly called the Officers Training School.

In view of the simmering resentment among the party workers over the issue, Gehlot decided to give them their pound of flesh. He directed his ministers to ensure that in matters of transfers, workers’ recommendations be given priority over “legislators’ desire”.

During the camp, the ministers are under orders not to divulge anything that transpired at the meeting, which continued today, to the press. The chief minister has decided to “tackle” the media alone.

The Cabinet also decided to fill 9,000 posts, mostly teachers and doctors, lying vacant for a long time as it was reflecting badly on the government.

Having failed to implement the “crop insurance” it had promised in its election manifesto due to the funds crunch, the Congress decided to lob the ball in the Centre’s court.

Gehlot told reporters that the Centre should take the initiative in ensuring implementation of schemes like crop insurance, employment guarantee and mid-day meals. He, however, agreed in principle to implement these schemes.

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