March 5, 2021 10:37:30 am
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Home Minister Anil Vij have once again locked horns, this time over the state police chief Manoj Yadava. The differences between the BJP’s two senior leaders are nothing new. While they share a bond since early 90s and have not said anything derogatory against each other in public, but their actions speak louder than their words. VARINDER BHATIA explains what the latest tussle between Khattar and Vij is all about and what is its background.
What is the recent controversy all about?
A 1988-batch IPS officer Manoj Yadava was appointed as Haryana’s Director General of Police on February 18, 2019 for a two-year tenure. He assumed charge two days later. His tenure ended on February 20, 2021. As per the rules, the state government was supposed to initiate the process of appointing Yadava’s successor three months ago, but it was not done. Rather, on January 7 this year, the state government ordered that Yadava shall continue as DGP “till further orders or till his retirement”.
Being the Home Minister, Vij last month wrote to the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajeev Arora and citing Supreme Court’s orders asked the IAS officer to send a panel of eligible IPS officers to Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) so that Yadava’s successor can be appointed at the earliest. However, soon after Vij’s letter made headlines, Khattar came out in Yadava’s support. On March 2, the Union Home Ministry granted an extension of one year to Yadava. The MHA order read: “…convey the approval of the competent authority for extension of tenure of Shri Manoj Yadava, IPS (HY: 88), Additional Director, IB in his cadre for a period of one year beyond February 20, 2021 or till further orders whichever is earlier under the provision of para 6.6 of IPS Tenure Policy”.
The same day, Vij shot off a letter to Khattar again seeking Yadava’s replacement and also sent a panel of eligible IPS officers seeking CM’s approval on the same so that it can be sent to the UPSC.
Why is Vij seeking Yadava’s replacement?
There are multiple reasons. First, Vij is citing Supreme Court’s guidelines as per which Yadava should have been replaced with another officer once his two-year tenure got over. He has also termed Yadava as “ineligible officer” and told the home department that the post of DGP should be treated as vacant from March 2, 2021 onwards. However, consequent to the MHA order, Yadava continues to hold the post.
Vij has also told Khattar that Yadava does not have adequate command over the officers of police department and also blamed him for “mismanagement” during ongoing farmers’ agitation. The minister – a six-time MLA – has also told CM that it would not be interest of Haryana to let Yadava continue as state police chief. In another related development, another IPS officer ADGP Shrikant Jadhav has also written to ACS (Home) citing “non-cooperative attitude” of Yadava in providing adequate manpower and infrastructure for setting up a Haryana State Narcotics Control Bureau. In his letter to the ACS(Home), Vij too had said that HSNCB was set up on August 25, 2020, with overall control of the DGP but Yadava has taken no interest in making it operational.
Why is Khattar defending Yadava?
Khattar is backing Yadava citing the fresh one-year extension granted to the officer by the MHA. Since CM is the final authority in this case on whether to replace the DGP and who should be his successor, Khattar is exercising it. Also, Vij’s tough style of functioning and repeated brush with various IPS officers in the past leading to resentment among them is another reason for Khattar to defend the state police chief.
What are previous instances of discord between the two top leaders?
Although the two leaders did not cross each others’ paths during first term of BJP government in Haryana, the fissures began to emerge soon after the second tenure commenced. In the first tenure, Vij held the portfolios of sports and health – generally allocated to a junior minister. When BJP again formed government in alliance with JJP in 2019, Vij was allocated Home besides Health and other departments. JJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala has nine departments including Revenue, Excise & Taxation, Industries and Commerce while Vij has seven.
In January, 2020, Vij had ordered the then ACS (Home) Vijai Vardhan to chargesheet then State Intelligence Chief Anil Rao for “major penalty” for not being able to gather enough intelligence inputs. The chargesheet for major penalty can lead to an officer’s dismissal from service, reduction in rank or suspension as a form of punishment. He had also asked Vardhan to remove Rao for “inefficiency, insubordination and dereliction of duty”. Vij had even asked for appointing Shrikant Jadhav as Intelligence chief. However, Rao was neither chargesheeted nor removed from the post. Rather, he completed his tenure and retired in July 2020. Jadhav was not appointed as Intelligence chief as desired by Vij, rather he was moved to HSNCB, a body that remains only on paper till date. Alok Mittal was appointed as Intelligence chief. A month later, Khattar took Rao in the CMO and appointed him as Adviser, Public Safety, Grievances, Good Governance and overall incharge of CM Window. His last drawn salary minus pension, besides other entitlements and allowances were kept the same. Simultaneously, Vij and Khattar had even locked horns over the control of intelligence department (CID). Eventually, the department was kept by Khattar only.
In a case of liquor smuggling scam in Haryana during lockdown, Vij had ordered a probe to be conducted by Special Investigation Team (SIT). Excise department is headed by Deputy CM Chautala. However, the state government changed SIT to Special Enquiry Team. On SET’s findings, Vij recommended State Vigilance Bureau to carry out further investigation to unearth the entire scandal, which is yet going on.
When have the IPS officers earned Vij’s wrath in the past?
In February this year, an IPS officer Ashok Kumar was booked on charges of assault on Vij’s brother Kapil Vij. A FIR was registered in Ambala against Kumar on the complaint lodged by Kapil Vij. Kumar was subsequently placed under suspension.
In November last year, IPS officer Manisha Choudhary was booked on charges of abetment after a former BJP councillor Harish Sharma died by suicide in Panipat. Sharma’s family had met Vij soon after the police had booked the councillor in a criminal case. A few days later Sharma died by suicide and on his daughter’s complaint, an FIR was registered against Manisha Choudhary.
In September last year, Vij had withdrawn all work from Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) AS Chawla – a recipient of President’s Police Medal for distinguished service. Vij was not happy with Chawla over the “Dial 112 Project” – a centralised police helpline. At that time, Vij had told media persons that Chawla was unable to execute the task to implement Dial 112 project for the last one year.
In August last year, Vij ordered a Vigilance probe against IPS officer Pratiksha Godara over her alleged role in liquor smuggling case. Based on the findings of a Special Enquiry Team probing the liquor smuggling scam, a showcause notice was also served to Godara to explain her “questionable conduct” on not taking adequate action in the liquor smuggling cases.
However, Vij had been denying any personal dislike for any officer and had been saying that whatever actions were initiated against any officer were purely as per the law and based either on enquiry’s findings or on the complaints lodged by people.
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