Chief minister Siddaramaiah seems dead serious about toning up the administration, and has revived a practice of early-morning meetings with top bureaucrats which was associated with his political mentor, former chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde.
According to sources, Siddaramaiah has asked chief secretary S V Ranganath and DG&IGP Lalrokhuma Pachau to meet him before the start of office hours and brief him on the day ahead and the post-mortem of the previous day. The sources said the instructions were given on Monday. He has reportedly told them that if he is not in town, or if they are out of station, he should be briefed over the phone.
When Hegde was CM, he used to call the chief secretary and the DG&IGP for breakfast meetings three times a week. The practice had toned up the administration and brought laurels for Hegde, who was described as ‘Mr Clean’ by the national media. Sidddaramaiah first became a minister under Hegde in the eighties.
Sources in the CM’s office opine that daily meetings of the top bureaucrats will make a big difference to the administration. The chief secretary can brief the CM on development issues, welfare measures, infrastructure, administrative problems, resource mobilisation and the like, while the police chief can brief him on the law and order front. The CM can tell them his expectations, and solutions to problems can be sought before the working day begins. Thus, the government’s decisions can reach the people faster.
“With the responsibility of briefing the CM personally, the top bureaucrat and top cop will have to do their homework thoroughly. They will have to contact the deputy commissioners and SPs of districts, as well as the principal secretaries of various departments, before meeting the CM. It won’t be easy to mislead a person of the calibre of Siddaramaiah, who has presented seven budgets and has the pulse of people’s aspirations,” a senior bureaucrat said.
Sources said the daily meetings will serve to keep the entire official machinery on its toes.
The exercise will stabilise even further from August 1, when the state gets a new chief secretary. Ranganath, who is on a two-month extension, is expected to hand over charge to his successor on July 31.
According to sources, Siddaramaiah was annoyed over a recent instance of official inefficiency. “Two days before he took the oath as CM, Siddaramaiah learnt about a minor communal clash in Hubli. He sought details from a senior police officer, but the latter was ignorant about the incident. This made him form a negative opinion of the efficiency of the state police. He is going to concentrate on the police department’s functioning from next week,” the sources said.
Siddaramaiah is well-aware of the tendency among the top cops to approach the courts on posting-related matters. Senior police officers are seen as neglecting work by focusing too much on lucrative postings, and the CM wants to formulate clear guidelines on police transfers, a senior officer said.
The CM is also expected to come out with several confidence-building measures to tone up the official machinery. With this in mind, he met DCs and zilla panchayat CEOs on Monday. Even as he makes preparations for the new budget in July, he plans to tour the state to supervise preparations in advance of the monsoon.