Two faces of controversy

Monday Musing

[ Taba Ajum ]

When reports of the transfer of former chief secretary (CS) Satya Gopal to Delhi started coming in, the people of the state on social media erupted in joy as if the state had made some major achievement. Even those who had never set foot inside the civil secretariat hailed the decision to transfer Gopal.
I have been witness to the transfer of several chief secretaries in my 10 years of journalism career in the state, but I had never witnessed people celebrating the transfer of a CS like this. The reaction of the people, which I thought was a bit overboard, bamboozled several people, including myself. Usually, such kind of reaction is reserved for the politicians. The bureaucrats, especially those hailing from the AGMUT cadre, mostly remain in the shadows of the corridors of power and let the local politicians hog all the limelight.
But former CS Satya Gopal was different, and that’s where perhaps the trouble started for him. He was a flamboyant officer and often loved to be in the limelight. During a state executive meeting of the BJP held in Namsai, the former CS delivered a fiery speech, and when it was the turn of Chief Minister Pema Khandu to deliver his speech, the CM said, “CS sir ne toh sab bol diya, aur main kya bolun?” At this, everyone burst into laughter.
The Congress party had taken exception to the former CS attending a BJP meeting, but nothing deterred him. Bureaucrats are usually loyal to their political bosses, but most of them prefer to work behind the scene and avoid political meetings. Maybe this is where the former CS failed to draw a line. There were allegations that Gopal was running the show with a coterie of officers loyal to him, and neglecting the others.
He also had falling-outs with local officers of the state. The problem started when the Confederation of Service Associations of Arunachal Pradesh, the largest employees’ body of the state, accused him of misbehaving with its members. Though the issue was later resolved, it sowed the seed of mistrust between local employees and the former CS. Both parties never recovered from it, and this directly affected governance.
Further, a bitter feud erupted between Satya Gopal and former DGP SBK Singh. The ego clash between the two, who were batch mates, rattled the state government. Those in the corridors of power believe that the PRC issue would have been handled in a much better way had there been proper coordination between the two.
Left with no choice, the chief minister, who was often accused of giving too much leeway to the former CS, took the decision to transfer both the CS and the DGP out.
However, those close to the former CS say it is wrong to portray Satya Gopal as some sort of villain. People who had worked closely with him say that he loved the state. “In various meetings with central government officials, he used to strongly pitch for the state and sometimes even picked up fights for the cause of the state,” said an official who was close to him.
The new Chief Secretary, Naresh Kumar, has joined the office. He may have to start by winning the trust of the local employees and building a foundation to take it forward. Often, IAS officers who come in from outside the state come with the presumption that the local employees are corrupt, which is absolutely untrue. There are very hardworking and sincere officials who have contributed immensely to the development of the state. The new CS will have to identify these talents and nurture them. The people of the state will be expecting the new CS to rise above politics and favouritism to deliver quality service to the state. Over to you, Mr CS.