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‘100 calls’ later, minister hangs up on IAS
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
“You will be surprised to know that I have tried 100 times during the past six to seven months to contact Karanbir Singh Sidhu, a senior IAS officer, on phone in connection with various urgent official matters relating to his department. But he never responded to the phone calls. Every time, I got a standard reply through his personal staff that Sidhu is busy in a meeting or attending to the files or giving dictation etc” states Tikshan Sud, a senior BJP minister in Punjab government, in a complaint submitted to the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Urging Badal to take suitable action against Sidhu, Administrative Secretary, School Education, the minister further stated in the complaint that if the officer concerned was dealing with him in this manner then one could easily imagine the treatment meted out to a common man. In his complaint to the Chief Minister Sud stated “after failing to get in touch with Sidhu despite my best efforts, I had no alternative but to send a complaint to you”.

The minister has stated that Sidhu had not attended his calls in spite of being in the office. “As Sidhu is a public servant he is supposed to be easily accessible”, states Sud in his complaint. In a democratic set up, such type of approach on the part of a public servant is totally unacceptable, intolerable and amounts to breach of privileges of an elected representative and a Cabinet minister.

Sud, however, is not the only minister to have such a grievance as far as interaction with senior officers is concerned.

Certain other ministers are also not happy with the way of dealing of certain officers. However, Sud is the first minister to bring the issue on record and submit a complaint in writing. Sud has stated in the complaint that he had brought the matter to the notice of Dr Upinderjit Kaur, education minister, about three months ago. But it had made no difference. Sud has also submitted a complaint in this regard to the Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Nirmal Singh Kahlon.

He has requested the Speaker to hand over this issue to the privilege committee of the House for necessary action. In the complaint submitted to Speaker, sources said, Sud has stated that as an elected MLA and representative of people he was answerable to people of the area and was supposed to contact officers concerned to get their grievances and problems redressed. By not responding to his phone calls the officer concerned was causing breach of his privileges as an MLA.

When contacted, staff members in the Speaker’s office refused to confirm or deny the receipt of the complaint made by the minister. Sidhu, too, was not available for comments. Sources said senior officers from the Chief Minister’s office had contacted Sud to pacify him in this regard and to settle the issue but he refused to oblige them.

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