|A Caged Parrot. Really?|
unpredictability of each of his move. What has compounded the government’s woes is Sinha’s habit of freely interacting with the media and placing his points of view, including those who many bureaucrats would have preferred off-the-record, well in public domain. And according to BoI Power List, 2013, Sinha is India’s second most powerful bureaucrat, ranked even above cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth and principal secretary to PM Pulok Chatterji.
No one in the establishment could believe when they heard that Sinha’s sleuths were following railway officials for months before exposing the cash-for-post scam which resulted in railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s resignation. Usually, CBI does not nail the high and mighty of the establishment, and merely looks for small fries to punish. Similarly, he could have directed his officers to tell a few lies in the court to cover up then law minister Ashwani Kumar’s attempt to “manage” the coalgate scam. Instead, Sinha directed his officers to disclose to the court every minute detail of that supposedly secret meeting. The meeting, reportedly anchored by then law minister, was attended among others by officials of the PMO and coal ministry, and the agenda was to suitably tweak the CBI’s status report which was to be submitted to the court. The CBI’s affidavit to the court embarrassed the government, and Kumar lost his job.
Buoyed by the Supreme Court asking the government to free the caged parrot, Sinha has now demanded that the CBI director should be given a three-year fixed term. And the director’s power should be equivalent to a secretary to government of India. In that case, he could probe a government officer without taking the requisite and time-consuming government (DoPT) sanction. The demands also include that the agency should enjoy more financial autonomy. Understandably, more financial autonomy would help the agency shedding its image of “caged parrot that speaks in its master’s voice”, as was described by India’s apex court.
For the government, there is a bigger worry that may only escalate in the coming months. Will Sinha follow any dictate from the government to build up pressure on regional satraps and the opposition, so as to keep the coalition going? But the trickier question is: Who will bail the cat? And who in the government (post-Ashwani Kumar episode) would come forward to micro-manage Sinha and his agency?
3rd Most Powerful: Pulokaseth
4th Most Powerful: Ambassador Nirupama Rao
5th Most Powerful: Ex-IRS Aman Kumar Singh