THE post of Chief Secretary is not only enshrined in the Constitution as the sole authority of the administration, but the person holding the post is also the custodian of civil services of a State. In Haryana, the Chief Secretary used to have an aura of strength. I have seen many Chief Secretaries in the State in the last 34 years and most of them worked with dignity and authority. The downfall basically started with the Om Prakash Chautala regime which exploited the State machinery and used it like a fiefdom. This trend was perfected by Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who had a secretariat of classmates and friends. gfiles’ cover story on Haryana Chief Secretary Deepinder Singh Dhesi reveals how the State machinery succumbed before Hooda’s authoritarian attitude, where not a single officer objected to the granting of commercial licence to Robert Vadra. Vadra had every right to apply for the licence, but adhering to the rules and guidelines was the duty of Dhesi and his colleagues. Why has gfiles done a story on Dhesi and the Vadra land deal? The Justice Dhingra Commission has recently sought an extension to dig out facts about Vadra’s land deals. Either Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is not aware of the facts or is misrepresenting the facts to the people of Haryana. gfiles has put the record straight and has exposed the coterie which initiated and sanctioned the deal. These facts are with the Haryana government too. But, for reasons best known to Khattar, it appears the State government is protecting the involved civil servants and Vadra.
The Khattar government came with a bang and was a source of hope for the people of Haryana. But, the Chief Minister now feels that the civil servants nurtured, by the builder lobby and Hooda will not allow him to fulfil the political agenda for which the BJP selected him. But the real issue is, who is stopping him from taking action against those officers who have connived in the alleged illegal deals over the last ten years? It seems, Khattar does not have the courage to act. Dhesi is considered to be an intelligent officer and was seen as Cabinet Secretary material among his 1982 batchmates. But, the way he has performed in Haryana and earlier as the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, defies this belief. As Neeraj Mahajan’s story on MMTC shows, Dhesi was an active partner in the alleged scandals that took place during his tenure as CMD. Under him, the MMTC for the first time went into the red. The Khattar government is not very enthused with Dhesi as his leadership is not inspiring the State administration. Dhesi himself wants to move out from the State as soon as possible. But, will the Khattar government take any action on the Vadra land deal or will the case remain as yet another example of politicians’ doublespeak.
Our Foreign Affairs consultant, Anish Gandhi, and I travelled to Dublin, Ireland, to attend the IATA AGM in the first week of June to get an idea of the issues before the world aviation industry. IATA DG and CEO Tony Tyler’s talked about how the industry is troubled about the increasing terrorism-related incidents across the globe and wildlife smuggling. Back home in India, the Ministry of Civil Aviation also announced the National Civil Aviation Policy in June. Jitender Bhargava, a veteran of the aviation industry, analyses it and hopes, “One is tempted to take a positive stance because the potential to expand air connectivity to cover tier II and III cities does exist. Success is also critical if the target of 300 million domestic tickets by 2022, from the present 80 million tickets, is to be achieved.”