Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bastar LS by-poll: Will Cong unite this time?

Yogesh Mishra

Raipur, April 12, 2011

Finally, the Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi has put a full stop on all the conjectures over the candidate selection for Bastar Lok Sabha seat and has given the baton to Konta legislator Kawasi Lakhma to bring back the party’s glorifying days in the tribal belt. But, with Lakhma being endorsed by senior party leader and MLA Ajit Jogi and the state unit Organisation failing to convince the national leadership for veteran leader Mahendra Karma’s candidature, it seems as if passion and indifference of the Congress workers would once again count during the hustings, of course this time in Bastar where the by-election is slated to be held on May 8, 2011.
During every election, the factions in the Congress intensify their activities and make every attempt to obtain ticket for their candidate. Once the prospect gets finalised from New Delhi, the winning faction resembles party’s dedicated part in the polls while the others sulk and disappear.
Carrying similar image about the senior party leaders and factions, the Pradesh Congress Committee’s (PCC) new incharge secretary V Hanumantha Rao during his recent visit had categorically instructed the workers that indiscipline of the individuals, camp loyalties and controversy-loving enthusiasts would not be tolerated. He urged all the partymen to shun polarisation and show united face in the Bastar by-poll.
However, habits are developed not to forget. In Congress, the factions have indicated that they would stick to their habit in the by-poll and have their own poll strategies irrespective of specific instructions from the party’s top brass. The PCC president Dhanendra Sahu and leader of Congress legislators in state Assembly Ravindra Choubey, who had strongly projected Karma as the apt candidate for Bastar LS seat, are now the most disgruntled lot after Jogi managed to get AICC chief’s nod for Lakhma.
Jogi’s proposal for Lakhma was accepted in spite of Sahu and Choubey’s excellent rapport with AICC treasurer Motilal Vora who was expected to play key role in recommending Karma. It is learnt that Vora, too, gave his silent support to Lakhma considering his bitter experience during the candidate selection for recent Sanjari-Balod Vidhan Sabha by-election on Sahu and Choubey’s recommendations. The Congress lost Sanjari-Balod seat, hence this time, Vora adopted calculative approach and picked Lakhma over Karma for the former’s active political role in Bastar region as legislator and latter’s long hiatus from politics.
Sources informed that the party supremo always takes inputs from Vora regarding Chhattisgarh Congress and she sought his suggestions in case of Bastar LS seat too which directly gave edge to Jogi over Sahu, Choubey and other camps in the state unit.
Jogi, who has got majority of the supporters in state’s Youth Congress and National Students’ Union of India besides having strong connection with tribal MLAs from the party, has clearly hinted that he had gut to make Lakhma victorious on his own might.
This has changed the power equations in the party. Now, whether the other factions would extend their support directly to Lakhma (i.e. indirectly to Jogi faction) or they would act subtly on the D-day, the party’s national leadership can only keep fingers crossed for positive outcome.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Expert docs working as babus in Directorate Health Services!

Yogesh Mishra

Raipur, April 09, 2011

The specialist government doctors, who were supposed to treat patients at hospitals, are working as babus in Directorate Health services (DHS). Ironically, these doctors are holding the posts of incharge deputy directors for several years while the Health department is still searching their suitable and permanent replacements with administrative background.
In the backdrop of unusual allocation of jobs at DHS, it is really impossible to surmise whether the government lacks expert doctors or adequate administrative officials. It seems even the Health department has not set its priorities and is yet to ascertain whether to give importance to the people’s health or to the paper works.
Meanwhile, the Health department keeps on giving lame excuses for insufficient specialist doctors in hospitals and hardly shows interest in transferring the medical experts posted at DHS back to their real job. Due to the department’s apathy, the district hospitals, community health centres and sub-health centres fail to provide the basic treatment facilities to the patients, especially those belonging to the financially weaker section.
The specialist doctors at DHS too appear non-serious towards their actual profession and instead they give preference to administrative jobs because of high salary packages against ‘no work load’.
These doctors are also availing benefit of the all the facilities provided by the government, but they hardly payback in terms of service.
The government allows the assistant surgeons to pursue their post graduation degree and encumbers their entire study expenditure. They also get exemption from work during their study period while the government pays them full salary.
However, after obtaining degree, these doctors never remember their pledge to serve the patients; rather they exert influence to get themselves posted at administrative jobs.
In DHS, the doctors do the job of babus and receive the salary of medical specialists. Besides, they also get non-practicing allowance (NPA) which is 25 percent of the basic salary.
Recently, after drawing flak from all corners pertaining to poor health services in its hospitals, the government had announced to fill 1283 vacant posts of doctors by January 2012. There will be 475 specialist doctors out of the total appointed ones on ad hoc basis.
The specialist doctors who are posted at DHS headquarters are Dr Subhash Pandey – paediatrician, Dr Alka Gupta – gynecologist, Dr Surendra Pambhoi – tuberculosis expert, Dr BR Soni – surgeon, Dr Nagendra Singh Chandravanshi – radiologist and Dr SMM Murthy – pathologist, Dr V Jayprakash – State Programme Officer Malaria.

Friday, April 8, 2011

41 health workers transferred on verbal order!

Yogesh Mishra

Raipur, April 01, 2011

The Directorate Health Services (DHS) has suddenly transferred 41 out of 54 health workers of Mahasamund district to other parts of the state. Terming the transfer a planned conspiracy to render them jobless, these field workers engaged in collecting door-to-door malaria and filaria slides said that they were least interested in joining in other districts. “There are two reasons due to which we do not want to move to other place. First, the order reached to our immediate bosses, i.e. malaria inspectors in verbal, not in written form. Second, we are low paid workers and survival with family in other districts is not possible for us,” they said.
Later, when Central Chronicle contacted one of the five malaria inspectors of Mahasamund district YM Sahu, he too confirmed that he had received verbal order from the District Malaria Officer. When asked the reason of the transfer order in bulk, he expressed his inability to comment on it.
These workers alleged that the DHS adopted partial attitude and retained 13 of their colleagues without following any parameter. They further charged that some of the workers managed to stay back in Mahasamund by bribing the officials.
 “A few among these 13 retained ones do not even match the eligibility criteria of the directorate in terms of educational qualification and experience, still they got preference over the deserved ones,” they said.
The qualification of the field workers ranges from standard Vth passed to post graduates degree holders. They informed that the directorate had started ousting workers having education qualification less than standard VIII.
There are five blocks in Mahasamund district – Saraipali, Basna, Pithora, Bagbahra and Mahasamund where these field workers have been posted.
These workers are semi-skilled daily wagers who receive stipend Rs 4108 per month. Besides collecting door-to-door malaria and filaria slides, they are not only supposed to medicate mosquito nets of the residents, but also are instructed to do the jobs of unskilled labourers intermittently.

Shocked by their transfer, all the 41 health workers reached capital city to meet State Programme Officer Malaria Dr V Jaiprakash at Directorate Health Services (DHS) on Friday. However, when they entered into the cabin of Dr Jaiprakash, the latter refused to talk to them. When they insisted, Dr Jaiprakash said the transfer was part of government’s manpower planning and they too would be incorporated in that procedure in the future. When the workers asked why they were being transferred on the basis of mere verbal order, Dr Jaiprakash shrugged off and bluntly told them to go on pretext of his busy schedule. The workers consistently requested Dr Jaiprakash to heed them indicating that they arrived from distant places. Incidentally, this scribe, who witnessed the entire drama, was perceived as one of the officials of the department by the workers who poured in their grievances before Dr Jaiprakash. Later while interacting with this scribe, these workers alleged that the DHS was exploiting them for the past several years and once they would be back in job after their DHS Raipur visit, their seniors would pose vindictive attitude towards them.

Tenders in Directorate Health Services: Bidders sniff corruption

Yogesh Mishra

Raipur, March 22, 2010

Scams and irregularities continue to haunt Directorate Health Services (DHS) as bidders refrained from taking part in tendering process, sniffing corruption in the entire procedures.
With the boycott of the regular bidders, the DHS has been left with only one application that it received in the past 30 days and now it looks for no other option but to invite fresh tenders.
The tender forms were scheduled to be opened on Tuesday from 2-4 pm. Since only one bidder had shown interest, the DHS decided to revoke the tendering process, confirmed Nikhil Deshpande, Directorate’s Assistant Grade-II from store section.
The transporting agencies alleged that the tender, which was issued on February 23, 2011 for transportation of medicines and medical equipments to different parts of the state, contained loads of vague clauses and some were generalised to such an extent that created suspicion over the intentions of the officials who determined terms and conditions.
Central Chronicle has obtained a copy of tender form issued in February 2011 and another tender form that was issued in 2009-10. On comparison, some of the significant clauses in the two forms did not match.
Where the clause 9 of the tender issued in 2009-10 explicitly stipulates three years of minimum experience in medicine and medical equipments transportation, the same clause in February 2011 tender has been generalised for all types of transporters with no emphasis on mandatory experience for medicine supply.
Doubting over the motives of the DHS officials, the transporting agencies asked whether it was appropriate to gauge all types of transporters on same scale when one needed to have thorough experience in handing the delicate and expensive medicines. They alleged the officials wanted to benefit their closer ones by putting such clause.
Similarly, the dates of issuance of tenders forms and opening of tenders have been omitted in clause 2 in this financial year’s tendering process. The clause simply says that the tenders would be opened after 30 days of its issuance date. The medicine transporters had already apprehended that if they would participate in the bidding process, their applications would deliberately be ignored.
They further charged that tender forms were sold at higher rates than the actual one. They pointed Deshpande for charging Rs 5000 instead of Rs 1000 for the form. “We did no even get official receipt against Rs 5000. Deshpande rather gave us receipt in the plain paper against Rs 1000 payment,” they alleged. Central Chronicle has obtained the both the copies of formal receipt that was given earlier against tender form purchase and the latest one given in plain paper.

When Central Chronicle contacted Director Dr Kamalpreet Singh, he denied all the corruption charges leveled by the transporting agencies and claimed that the bidding process was done transparently and impartially. However, later on Tuesday noon, the DHS officials suddenly announced revocation of the tendering process saying that only one application form was submitted. When pointed out that there was no mention of dates in the tender form, Singh said, “This is not a big issue. If any tender is being invited in any particular fiscal then how can it be interpreted as meant for any other financial year?”
When asked that some of the transporting agencies sniffed irregularities in the tendering process as many of the clauses were deliberately framed to benefit the specific transporters, he said all the apprehensions were baseless.

Water tax hike: Why senior Congmen baulk to join protest?

Raipur, March 23, 2011

The Congress has intensified its protest against water tax hike in all the districts after Holi, but the party lacked participation of its senior leaders. Defending his partymen, the PCC president Dhanendra Sahu said their protest movement was advancing in right direction and it should not be perceived as weak effort in the absence of some senior leaders.
“We will continue our protest till the government takes back its decision,” Sahu said on Wednesday and hinted that the party’s legislators too would join the bandwagon after conclusion state Assembly’s Budget session.
However, majority of the party workers are upset by the attitude of the senior leaders. They said except gheraoing Chief Minister Raman Singh the party’s big guns never display unity against the government on tax issue.
“We know the party’s MLAs are busy in Vidhan Sabha session but what about other leaders who have suddenly disappeared and refuse to consider water tax hike as major issue,” the workers asked.
Targeting their state president Dhanendra Sahu and working president Satyanarayan Sharma, they said the duo should have at least taken the issue seriously and encouraged them.
Pointing out towards one of the party’s former legislators, who in spite of hailing from Durg had made Raipur as his second home a couple of years back when he contested Lok Sabha polls, they said he only prefer to raise those issues which help him securing adequate media space on the following day.
They did not spare the mayors elected in Raipur, Bhilai, Rajnandgaon and Bilaspur from their party and said the four could have jointly showed resistance against the government but instead each of them want to take advantage of the issue by raising it individually.
They did not even hesitate in alleging that their leaders do not want to burn their skin in scorching heat at dharnas and protests and consider workers most appropriate for such jobs.
The workers fear that their protest movement would end up without producing anticipated result if soon the senior leaders would not join into the campaign.

The PCC president informed that he had already instructed all the DCC presidents to launch movement against tax hike by linking common mass through different methods like signature campaign.
“The Congress first aims to create awareness among the people about the tax hike so that they could understand that how much they would have to shell out after implementation of revised rates from April 1, 2011,” he said.
Sahu further informed that he would also convene a meeting of all the district presidents in the first week of April to chalk out future strategy regarding the tax issue. 
When asked whether the party would call Chhattisgarh bandh against tax hike before March 31, he said, “There is no such plan in the offing. Still, if the government would stick to its obstinacy then we would have to adopt this route to mount pressure on it,” he said.

Can new state Congress incharge change party’s fate?

Yogesh Mishra

Raipur, March 08, 2011

In wake of its back-to-back defeats in Bhatgaon and Sanjari-Balod by-elections, the state Congress is in low spirits and is still brooding what went wrong in its poll strategies that failed to check the BJP’s successive winning streak. The PCC does not want to open the can of worms by analysing party’s frustrating performance in by-polls and rather waits eagerly for arrival of the new state incharge AICC general secretary BK Hariprasad who could do the critical job impartially. But the party leaders do not know whether Hariprasad would dig the past of state Congress or concentrate in shaping its future. In fact, they simply think that if he would take right decision then he can change the party’s fate in the state.
However, Hariprasad, who is also a Rajya sabha member from Karnataka and incharge of Madhya Pradesh and Haryana besides Chhattisgarh, has tough task ahead in this tribal populated region.
He does not want to gauge the PCC leaders and workers on the basis of his previous Chhattisgarh connections when he was appointed as poll observer by the party leadership during last Assembly and general elections in the state.
Instead, according to information, Hariprasad is rather using his close links with the top bananas of Chhattisgarh Congress to know the current scenario.
Sources informed that he has already contacted state’s former incharge V Narayanasamy and fetched information about the party’s status. He has reportedly sought information from Narayanasamy about the loopholes in the state unit and about different factions who repeatedly challenge the PCC leadership that eventually results in party’s poll defeats.
Hariprasad has also held brief discussion with AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, the state’s veteran leader, to take stock of party’s political activities and ground presence in both urban and rural regions.
He is also said to have spoken to Lok sabha member from Korba Dr Charandas Mahant who has much earlier refused to become PCC president and Mohsina Kidwai, the party’s Rajya Sabha member from Chhattisgarh quota, to know their opinions about state unit.
Hariprasad has also asked the PCC to provide party’s year-wise operations since 2004. He has further asked the state unit to send list of popular Congress leaders in the state and potential party workers who could be groomed as leaders of the future.
Sources informed that Hariprasad is following AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s style of working who before going to any state first goes through the track record of the party in that particular region.
With new assignment as Chhattisgarh incharge where Hariprasad would wish to rekindle the downcast party, the workers hope that instead of downsizing the dissenters, he would take subtle measures to bridge the gap between the factions and give them important tasks of consolidate the party in both urban and rural regions in next two years to prepare favorable conditions for Congress to succeed in its mission 2013 and 2014.

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