Bureaucrats as Rath Prabharis: Government vs Opposition
The Rath Prabhari controversy has involved the nomination of senior government officials as special officers for a campaign. And has raised the debate of Government vs Opposition.The campaign, named “Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra“. It will take place nationwide from November 20, 2023, to January 25, 2024, encompassing 2.69 lakh gram panchayats. Specially designed raths or vehicles will be deploy to showcase information, videos, and posters. This argument of Government vs Opposition
The controversy began when the Ministry of Panchayati Raj issued a circular on October 25, 2023. Directing all state governments to nominate one senior officer from each district as Rath Prabhari or Rath In-charge. The circular specified that the Rath Prabhari would be responsible for coordinating with the central government. It ensures the availability and maintenance of raths, mobilizing public participation, and monitoring the progress of the campaign. It also mentioned that the Rath Prabhari would receive a certificate of appreciation from the Prime Minister.
Controversy Surrounding Rath Prabhari Roles and Political Allegations
Each Rath Prabhari has the responsibility of supervising the campaign’s seamless execution in their designated districts and states. They must regularly report to the Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister’s Office. The opposition parties have criticized the circular as a violation of the model code of conduct and an attempt to politicize the bureaucracy. They argue that the circular amounts to using state machinery for party propaganda and influencing voters ahead of the upcoming elections. Questions have been raised about the legality and constitutionality of the circular, as well as its impact on the impartiality and neutrality of civil servants. They have demanded the immediate withdrawal of the circular and action by the Election Commission against the government.
It has ignited a fervent discussion in both the political and public arenas, with each side alleging the other of abusing power and eroding democracy. Furthermore, the controversy has prompted inquiries into the role. Obligations of civil servants in a democratic system and the difficulties they encounter in reconciling their responsibilities and allegiance.
Government's Defense of Circular and the Rath Prabhari Debate
The government has defended the circular as a way of disseminating information, and awareness and extending services at the grassroots level. They have claimed that the campaign is not a political exercise, but a public outreach program that aims to educate people about the government’s achievements and initiatives. They have also asserted that the circular does not violate any law or code of conduct and that it is within their prerogative to nominate officials for such campaigns.
The Rath Prabhari controversy has sparked a heated debate in the political and public sphere, with both sides accusing each other of misusing power and undermining democracy. The controversy has also raised questions about the role and responsibility of civil servants in a democratic system, and the challenges they face in balancing their duty and loyalty.
Some of the arguments for and against the Rath Prabhari controversy are:
The government argues that the Rath Prabhari circular is not a political exercise, but a public outreach program that aims to educate people about the government’s achievements and initiatives. They claim that the campaign is not intended to influence voters, but to inform them about the various schemes and benefits that are available to them.
They also assert that the circular does not violate any law or code of conduct and that it is within their prerogative to nominate officials for such campaigns. They say that the Rath Prabhari circular is part of their duty to ensure public service delivery and good governance at the grassroots level.
The opposition parties argue that the Rath Prabhari circular is a blatant misuse of power by the ruling party by using state machinery for party propaganda. They allege that the circular amounts to using senior bureaucrats as agents of the ruling party, compromising their impartiality and neutrality.
They also question the legality and constitutionality of the circular, as well as its impact on the upcoming elections. They say that the Rath Prabhari circular is a violation of the model code of conduct, which prohibits any activity that may disturb or influence voters during election time. They demand that the circular be withdrawn immediately and that the Election Commission take action against the government.
The Rath Prabhari controversy revolves around the nomination of government officials for a campaign to showcase the government’s achievements. While the government defends the campaign as a means of informing the public, the opposition argues that it is a misuse of power and violates the model code of conduct ahead of elections.