Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are still a year and a half away, but the bureaucracy has started defying the ministers of the Samajwadi Party government. Files are not being cleared and the directives of the ministers are not being followed.
In the SP too, there is defiance in the air.
“It is mainly the bureaucracy that is getting out of hand. Officials know that elections are around the corner, so they are increasingly stubborn and refuse to implement decisions. Development in our constituencies is being delayed and even the smallest work is being held back,” said one MLA.
UP minister Ram Karan Arya also admitted in the Assembly that that the Finance Department was putting up hurdles in removing the pay anomalies of the Prantiya Raksha Dal cadre. As the opposition parties roared over the issue, the minister hastened to add that he would make another effort to get the decision implemented.
During the just concluded Assembly session, officers have been found missing during question hours, leaving the ministers wading for answers. This bureaucratic defiance is also affecting the working in the government. Despite the deteriorating law and order situation, th capital Lucknow has been managing without a DIG. Several key positions are lying vacant and a large number of officials are on the wait list.
“I am a Cabinet minister but the officers do not listen to me. If this is my situation, you can understand what the state of affairs is for the common man and even our party workers. I know if I lose elections in 2017, it will be solely because of the bureaucracy,” said a minister.
The SP government, incidentally, has not taken stern action against any bureaucrat for defying or delaying his orders and this has removed the element of fear in the state machinery.
A senior officer, on the other hand, blamed the multiple centres of power in the ruling party for the non-performance of the officers.
“What can a bureaucrat do when there are ten people breathing down his neck with conflicting orders? In such a situation it is best not to take any decision and let things remain static. The problem is worse for those in police services where all top SP leaders issue orders for postings and removals of station officers/inspectors and even circle officers,” said a senior bureaucrat.