Ranchi, Jan. 16: A rare public protest in Seraikela-Kharsawan over the transfer of its popular SP Indrajit Mahthe, coupled with the shunting of 16 IPS and 16 IAS this week, have given volume to whispers of politically motivated postings in a poll year.
Recently, the BJP and JVM have registered complaints with governor Syed Ahmed and state chief electoral officer P.K. Jajoria, alleging transfers in the state are an outcome of many considerations, including favouritism of the ruling coalition and financial sweeteners.
“All industries have died in Jharkhand, only the transfer-posting industry is flourishing. Over 1,500 officials of different ranks have been transferred during the last one and half months or so. Illegal financial transactions to the tune of Rs 100 crore are involved,” thundered Ranchi MLA and former Assembly Speaker C.P. Singh of the BJP.
JVM principal general secretary Pradip Yadav accused ruling partners of wanting to put only persons of their choice in key positions to “efficiently exploit them during elections”.
He appeared to hint at the widely held theory that during the entire voting process, ruling parties prefer having at the helm bureaucrats and police officers of their choice.
“We have approached the governor and election commission with our complaint. Now, we will approach the people’s court,” Yadav added.
JMM central committee member Supriya Bhattacharya argued official transfers were the state government’s prerogative.
“Our aim is to serve the poor. If the state government feels a particular official is not performing his duties honestly, we are duty bound to replace him by a competent one,” he said.
Yesterday, the state government ordered the transfer of 16 IPS officers of SP rank, eight among whom were posted in districts, including Seraikela-Kharsawan SP Mahthe.
Rumours are rife that an Opposition leader was thought to be close to Mahthe, though the leader in question decided to be silent on the matter and not fuel controversy. Champai Soren of the ruling JMM is Seraikela’s MLA.
Apart from the IPS officers, 35 policemen of inspector, sub-inspector and assistant sub-inspector ranks were also transferred.
Three days ago, 16 IAS officials of different ranks were transferred, including deputy commissioners of four districts and then road construction department principal secretary Rajbala Verma.
Verma, who was shifted to the rural works department because political heavyweights in road construction were apparently not comfortable with her, had to be handled gingerly because she is supposedly in Union minister Jairam Ramesh’s good books.
To play safe, S.K. Satpathy, another IAS whom Ramesh also reportedly likes, was put in road construction.
Some transfers haven’t courted controversy.
Transfers of deputy commissioners were imminent following their promotion to secretary rank. IAS Sajal Chakravarty, who was tourism department’s additional chief secretary and had earned flak for the recent mishaps in tourist spots, was shunted to transport.
Some bureaucrats, when contacted, admitted to the role played by politicians in official transfers.
“Last time, chief minister Hemant Soren ordered SP Hemant Toppo’s transfer from Koderma to Bokaro, but the final notification wasn’t issued due to pressure mounted by a minister, apparently under his son’s influence. Now, the SP has been given a Dhanbad posting. Also, new Koderma SP Sangeeta Kumari is water resources minister Annapurna Devi’s choice,” said a senior official at Dhurwa police headquarters.
Others differed. “Political pairvis may have had a role in a few transfers, but by and large these are justifiable,” said a senior bureaucrat of personnel and administrative reforms department.