Is Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan acting like Korean dictator Kim Jong-un? Does he think that he can impose something like The Great Firewall of China on the highly aware state of Kerala?
At least a section of IAS officers in Kerala thinks so.
IAS officers in Kerala were outraged by the Chief Minister's remarks at a recent meeting of Government Secretaries. The Chief Minister said that he had heard that IAS officers often gathered at a penthouse in Thiruvananthapuram, and that news and information related to the government was being ‘leaked’ from here. The CM said that he is aware that a central government agency official was participating in the parties and was crucial to this information leak. The CM carefully dropped crucial clues to ensure that the assembled Secretaries were left in no doubt about the place and the outsider concerned – including the gratuitous information that the central government agency concerned was NOT one of those who were currently investigating various cases in Kerala
One of the leading news portals in Kerala also reported that a Central Government sports training facility , situated a short but safe distance away from the city, was the preferred site of discreet booze parties for IAS officers since the change of IAS leadership in June. To that extent, targeting the penthouse in Vazhuthacaud at this juncture, may be simply an exercise in bolting the stable after the horses have fled.
The question on everyone’s minds is whether it is wrong to party, especially in a state where booze tax is the main source of income to the government?
The officers point out that if their Conduct Rules were applied to legislators and their staff, it would be the Chief Minister's office (CMO) who would be in the dock for merrily attending parties flowing with alcohol, interacting illegally with foreign consulate staff and accepting expensive gifts.
'Officials have the same personal freedoms as any other citizen. It's just that it shouldn't be against the Conduct Rules
One of the officers pointed out in the Whatsapp group of the officers. The Conduct Rules focus on an officer’s public appearance and actions, not what an officer may do in his private time and space.
The freedom of expression of IAS officers in Kerala is already in dispute. There have been cases where notices have been issued against officials for writing articles. Former DGP Jacob Thomas was even suspended for writing an autobiography.
Earlier, the Chief Secretary had raised eyebrows in government circles by stating – no doubt under instructions from his superiors – that criminal cases would be registered against government employees who leaked government information to the media.
Officials observe that this is not Kim's Korea to block even the basic freedom of expression that is part of the Constitution.
But perhaps, there are reasons for the sudden nervousness on the part of the party-pooper Chief Minister. He was the one who was most blamed in recent days for the license given to officials in his office to act as if they are above the law. Allegations of various mafia activities, including gold smuggling, were leveled against the Chief Minister’s office after the blatant misconduct of his Principal Secretary M Shivasankar was brought to light.