It is unclear as to who is to blame for the recent ugly spat between the Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij and IPS officer Sangeeta Kalia in Fatehabad, at a district grievances meet where residents come with their complaints against officers. Sources said when Anil Vij asked the SP why the police was not doing enough to stop the illegal sale of liquor, the SP sitting on his left, said the police is doing its job. However, Vij insisted they weren’t and were a part of the racket. Kalia then blamed the government saying that the government gave away liquor licences. This infuriated the Health Minister who asked her to leave which she refused. Vij barged out saying he would never return to the district until the officer is shoved out. He took the matter to the Chief Minister and the very next day, the SP’s transfer order was issued.
Some experienced bureaucrats claim that the seating arrangement in the function might have had a role to play in initiating the conflict. The SP, Kalia, sat next to the Health Minister. An official pointed out that this never happens. “This may have led the SP to believe that she was at par with the Minister. However, she is much lower in the hierarchy,” he added.
For years, such meetings have been held in Haryana. Usually, the minister and the deputy commissioner share the dais while all others sit facing them. The DC chairs the meeting in the absence of the minister. This meeting had a circular layout that placed a host of officers on an equal footing. It may have been unwittingly done, but played its part in aggravating conflict.
The decision to transfer Sangeeta Kalia received flak in the media. The opposition tore into the BJP accusing it of being arrogant and anti-women. However, senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka tweeted: “Was minister giving illegal order to SP? When public good is involved, politicking on spat is not conducive to making policing responsive.”