‘Babus’ in politics: Warm the benches or anchor a win?
Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group
As in the past this poll season too has witnessed entry of some high profile babus drawn from civil, foreign and defence services but a trip down the memory lane shows top jobs were yet generally reserved for traditional politicians. Entry into politics has though helped them further their careers by ensuring circulation.
Bureaucrats have made politics a favorite hunting ground in recent years cutting across party lines. This poll season has so far evidenced former home secretary R K Singh alongside former diplomat Hardeep Puri. Former controversial army chief V K Singh too turned saffron this time throwing his weight behind BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Adding to the list is retired IAS Bhagirath Prasad who just switched to BJP after getting Congress ticket for Lok Sabha polls.
However, going by the past trend, it is a long and arduous wait to experience power as a minister. An analysis of babus in politics in recent times shows bureaucrats turned politicians have had to be truly patient to get any important role in the government.
A Zee Research Group (ZRG) study of key bureaucrat-turned-politicians across parties revealed that they have had to linger on an average up to about 10 years before becoming a minister.
The sample list includes senior leaders like Yashwant Sinha, Meira Kumar, M.S. Gill, P.L. Punia, Ajit Jogi, Jesudasu Seelam, Mani Shankar Aiyar, and Namo Narayan Meena.
For instance, Ajit Jogi had to wait for a period of 14 years before becoming the chief minister of Chhattisgarh. In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi (the then PM) was looking for fresh young faces and was able to convince Jogi to resign from the IAS. Similarly, senior BJP leader Sinha quit civil services in 1984 to join active politics. After a gap of six years, he became the finance minister in Chandra Shekhar’s cabinet.
Likewise, Kumar in 1985 quit Indian Foreign Services (IFS) and entered 8th Lok Sabha from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. She got her first ministerial post (union minister for social justice and empowerment) in 2004 after a gap of nearly two decades.
The 1984 batch IAS officer, Jesudasu Seelam resigned in 1999 to join Congress. He got his first ministerial post in June 2013 when he was inducted as MOS finance in Manmohan Singh’s cabinet.
Senior bureaucrats turned Congress men like M.S. Gill and P.L. Punia have a similar story. Gill, who was Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) before joining Congress in 2004, became the union minister of youth affairs and sports (independent charge) in 2009.
Punia, who retired in 2005 had contested the 2007 Assembly election from Fatehpur on Congress ticket but lost. He is yet to become a minister though he became the chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC) in 2010.
Senior Congress leader, Mani Shankar Aiyar resigned from IFS in 1989. He became the union minister for Panchyati Raj in 2004, 15 years after entering politics.
Interestingly, in some cases, the waiting period for ministerial position has been further on rise. Vijaya Bakaya, 1970 batch IAS officer who retired as Chief Secretary of J&K, joined National Conference (NC) after retirement. In 2009, he was elected to the Legislative Council on NC ticket. Similarly, HT Sangliana, former IPS after retiring in 2003 became the member of 14th Lok Sabha on BJP ticket. Later, he switched to Congress but is yet to get any position in the government.
Likewise, Mizo IPS officer Lalduhawma left his services in 1984 to join Congress. Later on he also started his own outfit ‘Zoram Nationalist Party’. But despite becoming a major political force in the state, he is yet to make it to the top slot in the state.
With babus making a beeline for politics, 2014 verdict might turn the tide for them.
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