The ongoing CBI Vs CBI feud has already caused a terrible loss of credibility in bureaucratic circles. While the young UPSC aspirants are quickly losing confidence, the present incumbent officers, too, are seeing the Institutions crumbling one after another. (See: ICAO Audit Findings: Bureaucracy Lets India’s Civil Aviation Down)
The ruling BJP at the center may lose Rajasthan in 2019. But, it can console itself by winning Odisha where it is yet to make an impact. On one hand there may be a section of victimised senior officers in bureaucracy seeking better alternatives, while on the other hand the BJP, too, desperately needs dynamic faces that could bring about a revolutionary change in Odisha politics.(See: Credibility)
Aparajita Sarangi: I want to break free
Against this backdrop, enters Aparajita Sarangi in the scene. Speculations in Odisha and other parts of the country are rife that other bureaucrats may follow Aparajita Sarangi’s footsteps.
Sarangi, the 1994 batch Odisha-cadre IAS officer, was on central deputation since 2013. She was supposed to return to Odisha in October. However, she had applied for VRS in September this year after completing a tenure on central deputation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved her application on November 16, after the state government recommended the same. The action on her VRS application was extremely swift by the government’s own standards.
Widely believed to be handpicked by the PM Narendra Modi, Aparajita Sarangi will formally join the BJP on November 27 at New Delhi. She will sacrifice her 11 years of service remaining in the IAS. Originally from Bihar, her husband Santosh, her IAS batch mate, has not yet resigned from his present posting as joint secretary under the Union ministry of commerce.
During her stint with the Odisha government, she served as Secretary of the Department of School & Mass Education (DoSME), with which she was emotionally attached. She also looked after higher education, textiles and handlooms and panchayati raj. Her pro-people approach especially as Collector, Koraput, BMC Commissioner made her very popular from 2006 to 2009.
Aparajita Sarangi initiated various measures in the DoSME which brought many positive changes that are visible today. Programs such as school beautification, dress code for teachers, recruitment of teachers, provision of text books on time, strengthening of monitoring system and capacity building paid rich dividends in the educational system. In recognition of her commitment towards social reforms, she was conferred with the first Shakti Samman instituted by Bharat Scouts & Guides. She received the coveted award from the Governor of Odisha in 2012.
With smart communication skills and deft social media engineering, Sarangi managed a huge mass base following in the urban slums of Bhubaneswar and among women teachers across the state for the work she had done during her stint as the Bhubaneswar municipal commissioner and education secretary. A pro-active mandarin, Sarangi, who has been working relentlessly for the society, today has developed a vibrant social media team that has been working overtime for the last 10 days.
All her efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Her dynamic career path, and especially her mass-base came handy for the BJP top brass to welcome her in the BJP fold. A section of the BJP views that she will counter the ‘women vote bank’ of the BJD. There are posts that have already declared her the chief ministerial face of BJP.
Job Or Service.
Aparajita Sarangi may have lost a few amount in PF and gratuity after 24 years of distinguished service. It takes only a visionary like her to quit IAS. She has, however, gained what every politician on earth dreams of- Mass Base. Worth its weight in gold, she has got it. Sarangi successfully used her stint in the IAS to mobilise a sizable mass following which she regards as her most valuable asset. “In job or out of job; mankind can still be served,” she believes. Needless to say, this is the chief virtue which is sought in every candidate aspiring to become a political leader.
Union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram said her joining BJP is a positive signal. “She will be an asset for us,” Jual said.
BJD spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Prashanta Nanda said the joining will have no impact on the BJD. “Only time will tell how beneficial she will be to the BJP,” Nanda said.
A subject of curiosity in political circles has been centered around the position of Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan who has been working hard over the last four years positioning himself as the “face of the BJP” in Odisha. How will Sarangi’s entry today make a difference? The Kiran Bedi story flopped miserably in Delhi four years ago. Will the imposition of a newcomer on the established cadre work? Thus, the negotiations are on the position that each would get in the party set-up.
Bureaucratic circles in Odisha are also agog with the talk of how the Prime Minister’s Office has been keen on picking up Sarangi like officers. Whether they chose to remain in the midst of CBI vs CBI types of feud or to follow Sarangi and come out of it, remains a consideration for the time being for many officers.