Remains of Cloud Nine Resort demolished by Government
Kerala Chief Secretary P. J. Thomas has issued show cause notice to former Additional Secretary to the Chief Minister K. Suresh Kumar for his remarks against the personal staff of the Chief Minister and functioning of the Chief Minister’s Office.
Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan has once again demonstrated his weakness by succumbing to the demand for Mr. Kumar’s blood. Mr. Kumar was obviously speaking in defence of the Chief Minister also in attacking the personal staff who had criticised the Chief Minister in the CPI (M) State Committee, though it can be asked how far it served the purpose.
In any case, Mr. Kumar was speaking the plain truth. He was not speaking against any policy of the government. He was rather speaking in support of them. He is pointing out that the Chief Minister’s Office had failed to carry out government policies and even undermined them. So, he can seek whistle blower protection for disclosing the truth about a key office of the government. It had been dysfunctional because of multiple afflictions—political partisanship, inexperience and ineptness.
A larger question is whether a Chief Minister elected to the Office with popular support is not entitled to choose his personal staff. Mr. Achuthanandan needed qualified, capable and effective staff because his own knowledge and experience in administration was extremely limited. However, in a bid to take control of the Office, the party posted people who were inexperienced or inefficient. The result was for all to see. The Chief Minister could never insist on having an Office he needed for carrying out his direct and implied promises to the electorate.
This is not to say that Mr. Kumar was faultless. He often appeared to be impulsive. There was no justification for his mowing down the tea plants of Tata Tea on the roadsides from the environmental or tactical point. The uprooting of the plants during monsoon caused soil erosion. Tactically, he could have persuaded the Tatas to surrender the land without the use of force if the government had the necessary determination. He should also have not tried to demolish the windows of a resort on the very day the case relating to the resort was before the High Court.
The Chief Minister needed a wise, diplomatic person with cold determination to carry out the Munnar mission instead of mavericks. It appears that the Chief Minister under-estimated the complexity and sensitiveness of the task and difficulties in fulfilling the objectives. In several cases, the government could have taken over the buildings instead of demolishing them. He also seems to have miscalculated the political opposition he would face even from his own camp in Idukki district. For strategic reasons, he should also have not alienated the CPI. There was no need for VS to try an image building exercise in Munnar as he already had the image gained as the Opposition Leader. He could have allowed the CPI ministers to carry on with their image building exercises, and in the process, trapped them into carrying out his vision (or mission).
Update (11/12/08): As an IAS Officer, Mr. Suresh Kumar can approach the Central Administrative Tribunal challenging his suspension from service (orders were served on Thursday.) However, it seems that he cannot approach the Central Vigilance Commission for whistle blower protection as the Commission has no jurisdiction over private individuals and State Governments. Kerala government has no law or resolution for whistile blower protection.
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