By Ningombam Bupenda Meitei
I wish that this piece of my writing, wherein the views – which are going to be expressed, hereafter – are all personal, shall not be perceived as a point to either support the former Chief Secretary of Manipur Oinam Nabakishore Singh or criticise the incumbent Chief Minister of Manipur Nongthombam Biren Singh because both know me in person and so do I honourably interact with the two. Both, to my understanding, are honourable gentlemen.
My writing is also not to project any sort of opposition to any civil servant, who intends or desires to be the Chief Secretary of the state in a near future, because some of the senior civil servants – besides being known to me in person – were my maternal uncle’s juniors. My uncle, who was in Indian Administrative Service, retired as Commissioner to the Government of Manipur in 1990s.
My arguments, here, will be to argue that the unceremonious removal of O. N. Singh (Oinam Nabakishore Singh) from the post of the Chief Secretary of Manipur still stands biased as an act of deliberate, discriminatory and unprecedented example in the history of Manipur’s Civil Secretariat. The action might sound politically empowering in a democratic establishment, but it also has sent a message of unnecessary fear of de-motivating environment in the work culture for the young inspired civil servants of the state of Manipur. It is, indeed, a prerogative of the Chief Minister to have his or her own Chief Secretary and Director General of Police; but the removal of O. N. Singh from the said post by the incumbent Chief Minister who, alongside with O. N. Singh as the Chief Secretary, also has celebrated a successful 100 days of his new government – is a question which can’t be swept under the carpet.
The Secretary to the present Chief Minister – who has been the Secretary to the former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh – is not yet replaced while O. N. Singh, who was the Chief Secretary to both the Chief Ministers O. Ibobi Singh and N. Biren Singh, was removed from the post of the Chief Secretary. Why is the former, a non-local, not replaced and the latter, a local, got removed? If the Chief Minister wants to have his own new team in his Secretariat, then why is the Secretary to Chief Minister, who is a non-local, not being replaced/removed till now? Why did not the Chief Minister choose his own Chief Secretary and DGP during his initial days of government formation, as Prime Minister or many Chief Ministers usually practice to have his or her own team in his/her office? What made the Chief Minister remove his Chief Secretary after 100 days of his successful government?
How is the argument ‘of seniority’ – replacing Oinam Nabakishore Singh, IAS, who would retire on 1/12/2019, by the present Chief Secretary who is senior to O. N. Singh – to be accepted and agreed to when there are already two senior most officers of Manipur – Tripura cadre, senior to the present Chief Secretary? Instead of choosing the senior most officer Ameising Luikham, who is also a local and native of Manipur, the present Chief Minister has chosen the third senior most officer who will retire in three months. The question is: Why?
The former Chief Secretary’s tenure was not even for 2 years, while the present Chief Secretary’s tenure can’t even – if not extended – be for four months. On the directive of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, as well as recommended by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, DoPT (Department of Personnel & Training), GoI – with the notification under the then UPA government – ordered for at least two years of fixed posting of all India services (IAS, IPS and IFS) officers. In a case of O. Nabakishore Singh, IAS, whose appointment as the Chief Secretary came into effect from the 1st of October, 2015, he was removed from the post of Chief Secretary even before completing 2 years of tenure in the post of Chief Secretary.
It is not a surprise to see an officer, who will retire in three months and despite having other IAS officers of Manipur-Tripura cadre who are senior to him, is being appointed as Chief Secretary – which is nothing but could/might also be paving a way for another new future Chief Secretary of the state with the help of an influence from New Delhi. Why is Ameising Luikham, who will retire on 8/12/2018, an insider and local IAS officer of 1981 batch – senior to the present Chief Secretary, of 1983 batch, not made the Chief Secretary of Manipur, and instead the third (after Ameising Luikham of 1981 batch and Ajay Narayan Jha of 1982 batch) senior most IAS officer, of 1983 batch, in the Civil List of IAS officers of Manipur-Tripura cadre, who will retire on 23/09/2017, has been made the Chief Secretary of the state?
When the entire Manipur Valley is inundated, almost submerged under water, due to unprecedented floods, caused both by man-made and natural calamities, at present, the sudden change of the state’s Chief Secretary is not a matured and wise decision of the incumbent Chief Minister of Manipur. Any IAS officer, who is at the rank of at least Additional Chief Secretary, irrespective of their seniority, as I have been informed, is eligible to be Chief Secretary. Though, the Chief Minister can have his or her choice to be the Chief Secretary, but the sudden removal of the first Meitei IAS officer from the post of Chief Secretary is also a clear sign of a planned dishonour to the entire indigenous people, in particular, and the entire people, as a whole, of the state of Manipur. Besides dishonouring O. N. Singh, a non-controversial and upright officer of gentleman’s qualities and characters, the unceremonious removal of him from the post of the Chief Secretary is undoubtedly biased, discriminatory and unprecedented in the history of modern Manipur’s civil administration in an independent modern India.