Is the Nehruvian Deep State cracking up, finally?

When the faux claim of some serving bureaucrats on their growing fears and insecurities under the Modi regime, coupled with the outrage of pseudo-seculars over the perfectly justified observations of the Army chief over the recent violence in college campuses, get top billing in the national media you know the Nehruvian Deep State of 70 years is probably an endangered species. Unraveling it may take long, but the process may have begun.

Going by reports in a section of the media, serving IAS, IPS, and IRS officers with Congress leanings have expressed their “pain and anguish” in private WhatsApp groups. Moaning their plight, they blame the current dispensation for reducing them to glorified slaves though there is really nothing new in the allegation. Only that more have begun to feel the heat, and rightly. They belong to India, not Bharat. Those with itching palms have their own grouse, more fiscal than political.

A brief overview of the Facebook pages of well-known retired bureaucrats like Omkar Goswami or Amitabh Pande and others is enough to reveal the hostility of their ilk to changes sweeping across the country post-2014. Fault-finding, picking holes, pouring scorn at the actions of the Modi regime, sometimes with the rapier of wit, and sometimes with a frontal assault on the system has been a regular part of their daily regimen.

Goswami, in fact, openly declared his affiliation to the so-called Khan Market Gang under whose umbrella the crème-de-la-crème of Lutyens are lumped together. They are polished, well-educated, fond of frequent foreign jaunts, eating the choicest food, connoisseurs of art. Their colourful private lives are the envy of many. They are the pillars of the Nehruvian Deep State violently opposed to the usurper of their realm, Narendra Damodardas Modi and his team of arrivistes. Nothing to them is more distasteful than the sound of the word Hindu, much less their holy books which they reject as mythology.

Notices from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to six bureaucrats, including Niti Aayog CEO Sindhushree Khullar, in the 13-year-old INX Media case involving P Chidambaram set alarm bells ringing. A letter signed by 70 worried bureaucrats, on the threat of impeachment hanging over their brethren, compounded fears. They said it was affecting the morale of hard working and honest officers. CBI and ED inquiries instituted against ex-Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa following his dissenting note on Amit Shah’s alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct has been on the minds of pro-Congress officers.

Much of the fearmongering, however, is confined to the incompetent and the venal on whom the Modi regime has come down like a ton of bricks. Some are facing criminal charges. Hardened slaves of the Dynasty against who there are no complaints per se have merely been sidelined to less important assignments. It is the deadwood that is being weeded out.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has borne the brunt of the Modi broom. Swept aside have been 65 officers in the last six months, including some of commissioner rank, all forced into superannuation. Those in the know say it is not loyalty to the government so much as commitment to the national interest that sets the criteria. Which is why the integrity of officers in the CBI and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has to be scanned and vetted with care. Manipulations made at the behest of the Union Home ministry during the UPA regime in key cases, like the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast to establish the charge of “Hindu terror” or show the encounter 2004 killing of LeT recruit Ishrat Jahan as unlawful, reveal the extent to which the Congress compromised national security to suit its minority vote bank.

Nevertheless, loyalty and outlook of the serving bureaucracy holds the key. And this is not easily gotten. Mindsets take years to mould. Decades of Britishness cannot become Bharat centric in six years. Narendra Modi was hard put to finding the right men in the PMO on assuming command, compelling him to rely on trusted Gujarat cadre officers for which he was frequently panned by peers.

It is against this background that the periodic brickbats lobbed by the secular brigade at the outgoing Army chief Bipin Rawat must be seen. He has time and again talked tough against the assaults, both physical and verbal, directed at security personnel. Stone pelters in Kashmir were warned that aiming missiles at the forces would not be taken lying down. Radicalised youth were bluntly told that their demand for azadi would remain a pipe dream. Earlier this week he took a swipe at “leaders” who had instigated violence at college campuses in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Leaders, he said, are not those who lead people in inappropriate directions. Flung at him immediately were Rules 19-21 of the Army which prohibit members of the force from making political statements or take sides in a political agitation.

No rules, however, are static. They need to be changed in keeping with the times. Slander, abuse, vilification of the institution is something our Fauj has never dealt with. An army major in Kashmir was compelled to use a stone thrower as a human shield to defend himself rather than open fire at a   murderous crowd of pro-Pakistan protesters. A Congress MP had the gall to call the army chief a sadak ka gunda.

Never before have the internal enemies of the state been as active, be they jihadis, Maoists, or urban Naxals. When poison is being liberally injected in the body politic by anti-nationals in the garb of politicians, those upon whom rests the duty of protecting the national interest have every right to back the civilian government of the day.

The army comprises humans who also have rights. Something pointed out by Gen. Rawat in his recent address to the National Human Rights Commission. He said the Army’s human rights cell created in 1993 would be upgraded to include human rights abuses against the armed forces.

The pronouncements of Gen. Rawat, who retires on December 31, indicate the first winds of change blowing across the nation’s outdated Deep State.

(Featured Image (North Block) source: Bloomberg Quint)


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About the Author

Sudhir Kumar Singh
Sudhir Kumar Singh is an independent journalist who has worked in senior editorial positions in the Times Of India, Asian Age, Pioneer, and the Statesman. Also a sometime stage and film actor who has worked with iconic directors like Satyajit Ray and Tapan Sinha. He writes regularly for the HinduPost as consulting editor.