New Delhi: Soon after Narendra Modi was sworn in for the second time on May 30, he was back in cleaning up the bureaucracy. On June 10, 12 Income Tax officials were forced to retire. Just eight days later, on June 18, 15 IRS officials were asked to leave. Most of them have either been under suspicion of graft, extortion or other forms of corruption. Starting the Modi 2.0 with such renewed vigour may have surprised the babudom, but not leaders within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
BJP which has been used to the mantra of “perform or perish”, since 2014 knows the art of survival — perform. “Two things Narendra Modi doesn’t tolerate — corruption and non performance. We may not say it openly, because we cant, but a key minister was dropped in Modi 2.0 when complaints of corruption against him had reached the PMO,” said a sitting key functionary of the BJP and a trusted aide of Amit Shah, requesting anonymity.
While BJP knew from the time Modi made his switch from Gandhinagar to 7 Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi, that he is a “non nonsense person”, many in the bureaucracy didn’t take it seriously, and paid for it. Way back in 2017, during Modi 1.0, the Modi government had 381 bureaucrats including 24 IAS officers punished over ‘non-performance’.
It took place on the completion of 3 years of Modi 1.0 when a detailed presentation was given to the Prime Minister “Foundation for a new India”. It was on discipling the babus. A booklet for the event read, “To ensure accountability of bureaucracy, the government has made probity and performance the twin pillars on which good governance rests.”
Cleaning up started way back, the pace has increased off late. By 2017, records of 11,828 Group A officers and 19,714 Group B officers were reviewed to eliminate the deadwood and those under serious corruption clouds.
But, it is Modi’s style, says a technocrat who has worked with Modi in Gujarat and till 2014 general election, very closely. The person, who doesn’t want to be identified, reasoned this, “CM Modi’s style of functioning has been through his trusted top babus. His Chiranjeevi Yojana, which was to contain child mortality rates or him promoting a barren land of Kutch as a tourist hub could not have been done by ministers or cadres, but by dedicated bureaucrats. That’s why he value them and expects the same efficiency he puts in”, says the technocrat on Modi’s “style” of functioning during his stint as Gujarat Chief Ministers.
He adds, “The central BJP got this taste only after he shifted base in 2014”. But now, the central BJP is in complete sync with this. All the National general secretaries put at least 10 to 12 hours in office when in Delhi and not travelling for pre-election or organisational purposes. And there have been instances when some very popular BJP leaders whose wings have been clipped as recently as in Modi 2.0 due to allegations of “arrogance” and “high flying attitude” from cadres and even general secretaries. So the BJP thinks, it’s but fair and natural that the babus too go through same gruelling process.
Modi government has asked all ministries to give a monthly update which will be informing the PMO about officers who have crossed the line. All such rogue babus will be made to retire. And the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party believes, it’s just fair.