For the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, chewing tobacco and smoking cigars can be reasons to seek a bureaucrat’s removal — as happened in the case of Ashish Joshi, former member secretary, Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC).
Seeking his repatriation to his parent cadre, the Indian Post & Telecom Accounts and Finance Service, the Delhi government, in a letter to the Telecom Secretary, forwarded a note sent by DDC vice-chairman Ashish Khetan to DDC chairman, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, which said that “on several occasions, he (Joshi) has been found smoking cigars and chewing tobacco within office premises.”
The letter was sent in April-end. Joshi is now awaiting his new posting.
“Despite polite exhortations not to consume tobacco within office premises, Joshi continued to smoke cigars and consume tobacco… It was deeply embarrassing for me when Joshi sat in an important meeting with some stakeholders and consumed gutka in front of everyone,” says the note.
When contacted, Joshi said: “I consume paan parag with tulsi, beer and smoke cheap cigars occasionally, but never inside office. It is a pity that after a month’s research, all they could come up with is that I consume gutka. I am not aware of this purported letter. If it is true, you can see that it is a classic case of a witch hunt.” He added that even if this charge was true, it does not merit the action that has been meted out.
While the AAP government has banned the consumption of tobacco, smoking cigarettes and cigars is allowed, although not within office premises.
Citing another reason for Joshi’s removal, Khetan’s note adds: “Despite my polite requests to Joshi not to speak to the press without proper authorisation, he continued to give out information to the press and even invited some of his media friends to the DDC office without prior approval.”
The note also points out that Joshi “insisted on hiring his own staff unilaterally and later told me over the phone that I, as vice-chairman of DDC, have no say in the matter”.
Among the other reasons cited are an alleged complaint by a person against Joshi’s ill treatment of homeless people. According to the letter, when questioned by Khetan, Joshi reportedly replied that they were drug addicts and should be handled “with an iron hand”.
Also accusing Joshi of mistreating guests, the note says: “Founder of NASSCOM came to see me upon my invite. Joshi picked up an argument with him over inducting R Chandrasekhar, retired telecom secretary, and alleged he was corrupt. I urged Joshi not to humiliate guests as we are trying to forge a relationship.”