Vigilantes or stooges? How the RSS is slowly taking over the Haryana govt
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar's move to appoint 'Sushasan Sahyogis', or Good Governance Associates (GGAs), in every district in Haryana is being heavily criticised from various quarters.
According to the critics of the project, which includes former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the government is attempting to "formalise" RSS control over the state administration by bringing in RSS cadres as super bureaucrats and promoting them as vigilantes.
The government had announced this Mukhyamantri Sushasan Sahyog Programme in April, with the idea of appointing Sushashan Sahyogis in all 21 districts.
The idea is that the Sushasan Sahyogis will coordinate with the top officials of their respective districts to ensure the quick implementation of government schemes. This would, according to the Haryana government, help the youngsters get some first-hand experience in providing solutions for the various administrative problems.
They will also give presentations to the Chief Minister every month on the progress made. They will have a tenure of one year to begin with.
Now that the selection procedure has begun, the Suhasan Sahyogis will be formally appointed after a two-week training period.
Sushasan Sahyogis are also expected to interact regularly with the top officials and public representatives of the district where they are appointed.
Back in April, the government had said that Sushasan Sahayaks picked would be under 30 and be graduates in the very least. Sonepat's Ashoka University has been chosen to be the knowledge partner for the project.
Smelling a rat
Now that the government has started to appoint Sushasan Sahayaks, the opposition has started to make a stink about the whole operation.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), while demanding that the project be scrapped, has said that Sushasan Sahayaks are nothing more than men handpicked by the chief minister who will form a parallel administration. Since, they will be paid Rs 50,000 per month by the state exchequer, the party says that that's is a misuse of public money.
"This is an unconstitutional post. There is no doubt that they would be RSS functionaries. It is nothing but formalising the RSS control on the administration," said Inderjeet, a member of the party's state secretariat.
"A commission of civil rights activists that had probed the violence during the Jat agitation stir earlier this year had pointed out the dualism prevalent - with the state administration on one side and the RSS on the other. It was RSS interference that had actually paralysed the administration. Now, the government is intent on giving the dualism a formal shape," Inderjeet told Catch.
Former Congress chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has come down heavily on the government move. He said the move suggests that the government has lost faith in its own administration and it is now trying to create a parallel administration.
"This is an insult to the 2.5 crore Harayanvis and the entire administrative machinery of the state. Isn't it strange that the Sushasan Sahayaks will be able to interfere in the administrative affairs but will have no responsibility fixed on them?" he said, calling the move unconstitutional.
Hooda also spoke of how the morale of officials in the state is already low on account of the RSS regularly interfering in state matters. There are frequent conflicts between ministers and officials, with the latter complaining of how they are held responsible for the failures of the ministers for no fault of their own. Hooda added that some ministers have been going to the extent of insulting officials by calling them "useless".
He says he has no doubt that all Sushasan Sahyogis appointments will be made based on directions from Nagpur, with the blessings of the RSS.
Against the Constitution
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has gone to the extent of saying that these appointments are against the ethos of democracy and the Constitution, and an attempt to destroy institutions.
Senior INLD leader Askok Arora has described the Sushasan Sahayaks as "super deputy commissioners" and "super MLAs". He also attacked the Khattar administration for making appointments to various key officials positions like vice chancellors of various universities, Lokayukta office and Punjabi Akademi, by bringing the people from outside Haryana.
Arora said that Khattar is slowly bringing in RSS functionaries into all the institutions through the back door and has handed over administrative control to the Sangh.
"The government is not working in a democratic and transparent manner," he said, adding that Khattar had told members of his part who had lost the election that they shouldn't get disheartened. The Chief Minister, he said, told them that they should consider themselves the elected representatives of their respective constituencies - and that the developmental works in their areas would be done as per their wishes.
"This is an insult to those 43 constituencies and also infringement on the rights of the electorate that has elected representatives other than the BJP candidates," he said.
The issue of Sushasan Sahayaks is expected to one of the key subjects that the opposition will take on during the next assembly session that will begin on 19 August. Till then, a war of words is expected to continue outside the house.
Edited by Aleesha Matharu