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‘Lokpal will hobble PM’

It will be possible in present circumstances for allegations to be made against the Prime Minister which are unsubstantiated and which do not really reflect the truth.

Written by Swaraj Thapa | New Delhi |
June 16, 2011 2:00:35 am

The office of the Prime Minister should be kept out of the ambit of the Lokpal,as it would not only make him vulnerable but also create a body that would be over and above the executive,K M Chandrasekhar,who retired earlier this week as Cabinet Secretary,said on Wednesday.

In his first interview after demitting office,Chandrasekhar,who was appointed as vice-chairperson of the Kerala state planning board on Wednesday,told The Indian Express that decision-making at the highest level in the government would suffer in the event allegations are piled up against the Prime Minister.

“It will be possible in present circumstances for allegations to be made against the Prime Minister which are unsubstantiated and which do not really reflect the truth. Once there is a pileup of such allegations,then it becomes very difficult. The Prime Minister is the most vulnerable. He has to take hard decisions that will displease certain sections of society. Now if these allegations are constantly being watched and monitored and he is under a cloud,that is certainly not going to make him comfortable,” Chandrasekhar said.

As the senior-most bureaucrat,Chandrasekhar has been privy to the decision-making process at the highest level and says that it is nobody’s case for weakening the office of the highest executive. “We need a Prime Minister who can think straight and will hold full tilt on whatever is needed for the country. Creating tensions there is bound to have an effect,” he said.

Chandrasekhar also pointed out that the civil society would have to clear any ambiguity on hierarchy of the proposed Lokpal. “Our constitutional structure consists of the judiciary headed by the chief justice,the executive headed by the Prime Minister and Parliament. Now if you propose to bring the judiciary and the Prime Minister under the Lokpal,then you are creating a body which is over and above these two institutions. The question then arises,who will be above the Lokpal because the same problems of accountability can arise there too,” he said.

Asserting that this was an issue agitating those occupying the political space,Chandrsekhar said the fundamental aspect that should be kept in mind was to ensure that individuals are not kept in mind while framing the law. “It should not be about Chief Justice S H Kapadia or about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Tomorrow somebody else can be there. You need a level of thinking that transcends individuals.”

Chandrasekhar,who came under criticism for accompanying four ministers to the airport to meet Baba Ramdev,said he was merely doing his job as the Cabinet Secretary. “I had to be there because there were a number of issues panning different departments which had to be explained. Instead of taking all department heads,it was better for me to be there to help the ministers,” he said.

Conceding that the issue of bringing back black money held in foreign accounts abroad was not as simple as it was made out to be,he said the government was doing its best in this regard.

Chandrasekhar,who spent the longest tenure of four years as Cabinet Secretary,will now be moving to Thiruvananthapuram as vice-chairperson of the Kerala state planning board. Announcing the decision on Wednesday in the state capital,Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the post was of Cabinet rank and would be co-terminus with the term of the government.

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