December 21, 2016
Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao’s residence and office raided for his suspected links to businessman contractor from whose residence cash and gold worth Rs 180 crore were recovered earlier this month.
Chennai: With raids on Tamil Nadu’s topmost bureaucrat who was handpicked for the top administrative job by none other than Amma, the Central Government has sent out a strong signal to the country’s babudom that it will not tolerate corruption at any level. No one is safe from prosecution if found guilty is the message that is going out loud and clear from the raids by IT sleuths and the presence of CRPF guards at the residence of the Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao, whose residence in Chennai was among the 13 places raided in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka on Wednesday.
In Chennai, the raids began at 5.30 in the morning even as the city was waking up. Teams from the IT department went across to the residences of relatives of the Chief Secretary, who is said to be linked to the contractor businessman Shekhar Reddy from whose house cash and gold worth Rs 181 crore were seized earlier this month. Cash worth Rs 10 crore was in new currency notes of Rs. 2000 denomination – by far the biggest haul from a single person in the country ever since demonetisation of currency that took place on November 8.
Today’s raids, sources said, came after documents were found at Reddy’s place linking him to the Chief Secretary. Some more raids against officials known to Reddy may also follow. Shekhar Reddy was arrested on Wednesday and produced before a magistrate.
What came as a rude shock to the officialdom, which is shell-shocked to say the least, is that the official chambers of the Chief Secretary in the Secretariat at St Fort George was also searched by IT sleuths in the afternoon.
There is, however, no word yet on the official seizures from the IT department.
Rao was elevated as the Chief Secretary of the State in June this year and he superseded 18 officials. Now, after the IT raids, there are questions being raised as to how such an officer who is now suspected to have amassed huge wealth was chosen as the head of the State administration that was known to be efficient and professional.
Retired officials said that this raid did not come as a shock or surprise as Rao was only a symbol of the rot in the administration that had begun to set in a long time ago.
Tamil Nadu has given us more reasons to feel ashamed of being a bureaucrat, said M G Devasahayam, a retired Haryana cadre officer. “It is like a mafia gang that works hand in glove with the politician and loots the state. Successive governments have manipulated and forced the government servants to fall in line. Honest and sincere officers have been hounded out and harassed no end; this is the prevailing trend all over India. But Tamil Nadu is the leading and shining example of this extremely shocking phenomenon,” he said.
Another former government servant said the office of the Chief Secretary was sacred. It was considered sacrilege to barge into the office for an IAS official. And now IT sleuths have raided it. Unless the IT people had something substantial they would not have dared to do what they did, the official said, adding, “raids do not come as a surprise at all.”
Devasahayam said though the step has been taken now, the Central Government must also bear the responsibility for allowing things to build up to this. What was it doing when Rao was made the Chief Secretary ahead of many others who were senior to him, he questioned.
The Opposition party DMK was quick to pounce on the development asking for the immediate sacking of Rao. DMK treasurer MK Stalin said it was unprecedented that a Chief Secretary has been raided, which has brought shame to the State. Pattali Makkal Katchi founder S Ramadoss too demanded the dismissal of Rao and action to be taken against him.