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India

MP’s ‘Ranking System’ Short-Lived as Corruption Continues

Bhopal and 17 other districts had earlier reported ‘zero corruption’ – but fearing political and administrative backlash over these fudged reports in an election year, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan withdrew the ‘corruption ranking programme’ in Madhya Pradesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always upheld the policy of ‘zero tolerance for corruption’ since his election campaign, even come up slogans that went viral like ‘Na khaunga, na khaane dunga’ (will not engage in corruption myself, nor allow others to) – but it seems that these messages have fallen on deaf ears in Madhya Pradesh.

The Chouhan-led BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has recently halted his ‘progressive’ ‘corrupt districts ranking’ programme recently.

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Collectors’ Fudged Reports

The state government had started ranking districts to make MP corruption-free in order to make Collectors and Superintendents of Police accountable – but the chicanery of the latter has compelled the government to stop the ranking programme.

CM Chouhan put a lid on the system after Bhopal and 17 other nearby districts reported ‘zero corruption’. Moreover, Collectors in some districts had reported that the field execution of most of the government schemes was excellent, when in reality, the ground situation was exactly the opposite.

According to a source in the government, department collectors were not furnishing information according to the given format. Besides, it was feared that the Opposition party, ie: the Congress, would corner the government on the basis of these reports in the run-up to the Assembly Polls scheduled to be held this year.

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Short-Lived Corruption-Free System

This is why, after running for only two months, the ranking system came to an end. According to sources, Chouhan had enumerated a ‘corruption-free Madhya Pradesh’ while asking people of the state to take a pledge on the occasion of the state’s Foundation Day on 1 November. Based on this ‘poll’, districts were ranked.

After the ranking system came into force, the general administration department asked all districts to submit their reports with regard to all cases concerning corruption in the prescribed format. However, only six districts, namely Bhopal, Datia, Dindori, Chhindwara, Seoni and Chhatarpur sent the necessary information.

As a result, the ranking of districts on corruption hit a roadblock. When the department took the remaining Collectors to task for not submitting graft details, the latter fudged reports by showing corruption-free districts to claim top spot.

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Criteria for Ranking

  • Corruption case records according to Chief Minister’s helpline
  • Preliminary investigation reports filed in the Lokayukta and Economic Offences Wing (EOW)
  • Raid and trap cases by Lokayukta and EOW
  • Departmental inquiry in graft cases as per civil services’ rules

Ranking System’s Journey

The ranking system idea was the brainchild of the Secretary to the Chief Minister, B Chandrasekhar. He had drawn up the format for getting information on corruption from the districts. He wanted to rein in Collectors and Superintendents of Police, but failed. Moreover, the state’s Chief Secretary BP Singh had initially objected to the project.

Later, after some Collectors reported ‘zero corruption’ in their districts, the Principal Secretary to the CM, Ashok Kumar Barnwal, recommended that the ranking system be done away with. So, after two months, the system came to an end.

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(The writer is a Bhopal-based freelance journalist. He can be reached @MallickKakvi.)