The BJP central leadership had to wade in to broker a truce between Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his Cabinet colleague Anil Vij who are involved in a tug of war over the ministerial jurisdiction over the CID, which handles the key intelligence function of the state police.
The effort, however, doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect with Vij stating Tuesday that “till the day the Home Department is with me, the Intelligence wing’s officers will have to send their reports to me”.
This comes a day after central leadership summoned Vij to New Delhi soon after he ordered a chargesheet “for major penalty” against incumbent CID chief Anil Rao and issued a directive to transfer ADGP Shrikant Jadhav as the new CID chief. The BJP senior leadership met both Vij and Khattar Monday night.
According to party sources, Khattar first took up the matter with the highest authority in the BJP arguing that all his predecessors had CID with them. Party leadership, it seems, had initially backed Vij with a section of party maintaining that the Home portfolio without the CID would be meaningless, something that the six-term. A top leader from the party had spoken to the CM for Vij. However, when both Khattar and Vij met party leaders, including the newly-appointed national president JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah, decision was taken to allow the Chief Minister to keep CID with him.
Vij, however, claimed that the party high command did not discuss the CID issue with him.
“No discussions took place on this issue with the party high command. Yesterday was not the day to raise such issues. It was a day to congratulate new party chief,” Vij told The Indian Express.
Hammering home the point that he is still the boss of the department, Vij said, “Even after my repeated instructions, the Intelligence inputs are not being sent to me. Unless, I have the prior intelligence inputs, how can I act in a situation? Due to all this, the peace and tranquility and harmony of the state is in grave danger. I am an elected representative and a government functionary. If the officers are not following my orders, I am duty bound to question them. They will have to send the intelligence reports till the day I hold Home portfolio”.
The directions issued by Vij to transfer Rao out of the Intelligence wing and appoint Jadhav as ADGP (Intelligence) can not be implemented without Khattar’s approval. “It is for the CM to act now. If the Intelligence chief is not removed, I will see what to do next,” Vij told The Indian Express.
Regarding issuing chargesheet to Rao for major penalty, Vij said, “I have issued the directions. It is for the concerned officers to find how to execute it”.
The chargesheet for major penalty may lead to reduction in officer’s rank, suspension, or, under extreme circumstances, dismissal from service.
Refuting the claims by the Intelligence wing officers that “all intelligence reports are being sent to the Home Minister on a daily basis”, Vij said, “The officers are only sending the reports in a stereotype manner, which is totally inadequate. It is a matter of safety and security of the people of this state. What if an incident takes place and I did not have any input regarding what led to the build up of that incident”.
The issue has led to a showdown between Vij and the Chief Minister. While Khattar on Monday had told media persons that “it was a technical issue and the matter shall be resolved by holding a mutual discussion”, Vij, on Tuesday, said, “I do not have any dispute or rift with the CM. I had always been saying that CM is supreme. He can take away any department from one minister and allocate it to another”.
A section of BJP leadership has been miffed with Khattar after the party’s not-so-encouraging performance in the 2019 Assembly election. A party leader even pointed out that their disappointment with Khattar, who was handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 for the top post, was reflected in the portfolio allocation – the CM who had handled Home portfolio in his last term had to give it away to Vij. This section has backed Vij in his attempts to get CID back with him.
Party leaders said it was a political decision. “Whatever the Chief Minister wants, he will retain, but he has to keep his ministers in confidence,” said a party leader familiar with the developments.
Asked about the issue, Anil Jain, general secretary in charge of Haryana, said the issue was resolved. “Everything is fine now. There is no issue,”he said.
INLD’s senior leader and Ellanabad MLA Abhay Chautala too took a dig at both Khattar and Vij. Talking to the media, Abhay said, “The fight is between CM and Home Minister and the poor officers are being made scapegoats. An Intelligence chief can not dare not to send intelligence reports to Home Minister unless he has been asked not to do so by the CM. What can an officer do in such a circumstance? If CM removes Rao now, it will mean that the CM has been removed. Officers of the state government are totally puzzled and do not know what to do under such circumstances”.
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