Spat between bureaucrats and elected representatives have been a selling point for most media houses, painting opinions and raking in TRP. One such confrontation happened between Haryana Health minister Anil Vij and the Fatehabad SP Sangeeta Kalia during the district grievances meeting in Fatehabad. Point of contention was the liquor smuggling in the areas bordering Punjab and sale of illegal liquor and the action point taken by the cops to curb it. What followed was a heated exchange between Sangeeta Kalia, Fatehabad SP and the health minister, resulting in the minister walk out of the meeting. Kalia’s reply of having booked 2500 cases under Excise act did not seem to please the minister, who asked the SP to “Get out” of the room. Having perceived this as a humiliation, the SP said, that she will not walk out, which resulted in Anil Vij walking out of the meeting. The minister too took this spat personally and has said, he wouldn’t be attending or sharing stage with the SP in the future.
When asked for the minister’s opinion, Anil Vij said, “Yesterday, one NGO complained to police, but she shouted back at the NGO telling it why you are complaining to the Minister, that itself shows that she is not cooperating”.
SP, Kalia refused to comment on the matter when asked about her opinion on the issue.
Who is Sangeeta Kalia?
Kalia is the daughter of Dharam Pal, a retired painter from the police department. Kalia joined the service in 2010 after clearing the civil services exam, the same year of which her father retired from service.
Reactions from the opposition and the social media were strong and mostly with the SP, while the minister drew flak. Congress leader Manish Tiwari criticized the minister of behaving in crude manner and said that he should have behaved better, while the CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that the minister should have maintained decorum while speaking to a lady officer.
The state’s SC/ST commission too criticized the minister’s behavior with the SP and has issued a notice to the Haryana Chief Secretary to submit a report within 7 days. Speaking to reporters, Mr Ishwar Singh, member of the commission, said that public humiliation of a Dalit invites punishment under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.
Haryana Congress president opined, “This is not the way Khattar’s Ministers should treat their bureaucrats. This is definitely an example of an intolerant behavior by Anil Vij. One does not tell a lady officer to get out like this”.
Anil Vij is known for his open mouthed remarks, one of his recent accusation was against his government of spying against him, when he saw a cop standing outside his office. Kalia is now transferred and posted as 4th IRB commandant at Manesar.
Grievances meeting intending to serve public, itself, churning out grief does not certainly help. The minister might have been quick to judge and rude to a serving officer, who must have been given a chance to defend. While this spat between a serving bureaucrat and a politician is not new to the public, what’s interesting are the remarks made on the issue. Were the reactions making a sexist remark on the police officer by offering a “gender card”? Should a serving professional still be treated as a person from a certain caste and hence she was meted out the treatment or did the minister find inefficiency in the officer’s efforts, which made him yell at an officer? Should we have a certain act laid out for ministers & bureaucrats misbehaving or professionals misbehaving in general, which is outside of his/her caste, gender, religion and then try them within that framework? While most of these confrontations draw social media attention and most reactions stand by the bureaucrats, one need to understand the complete story before jumping to make a judgmental comment.