Tripura Government Decision to Take Action Against Absentee Employees is an Attack on Democracy

Sagarneel Sinha

Shocked to read the news report which states that a notice was issued from the office of General Administration (Administrative Reforms) on 14th September asking concerned departments to take suitable action against employees who failed to report to duty on the day of Bharat Bandh called by the Congress, supported by the other opposition parties including the Left parties. Obviously, in a democratic country like India, such decisions do certainly raise eyebrows. Many employees don't come out of houses on the day of stikes out of fear of insecurity and due to lack of transport vehicles. And this is obvious.

But what not obvious is the government decision to take "suitable actions" against the employees. The ruling BJP government should turn around to look the past when the party had organised such Bharat Bandhs like that of 10th September during the previous Manmohan Singh led UPA government era over the issue of rising petrol prices and high inflation in the market. Ironically, the bandh of 10th september called by the Congress and supported by other many opposition parties was also on the same issue. Even BJP itself in the past had criticised multiple times Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal government for strict measures on employees who remained absent on the day of strikes. In the current trend, it seems that the BJP government of Tripura is following the same steps of Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal government.

In a democracy, an individual has the right to organise protests and strikes. Many employees prefer to stay at home on the day of strike to avoid the difficulties they would face in their way to the offices. It is completely out of logic on what basis the government is talking of taking "suitable actions". This is absolutely an act of political vengeance and such acts  contradict  the democratic principles and rights enshrined in our constitution. However, often the political parties, after securing power, assume that, once elected they have the power to do anything they like for the next 5 years.

Instead of taking action against its own employees, it would have been better if the government implemented its election promise of the much awaited Seventh Pay Commission. Already, news reports are out that the Verma Committee formed in regard to payment of the Seventh Pay Commission will now submit its report most probably by 31st December. Earlier, the state government had stated itself that it would be implemented before the Durga Puja. However, seems that the government will implement it just before the 2019 polls - though not fully, as it is clear that the state doesn't have the required funds and how much will the Centre give is not yet clear, despite repeated visits of Chief Minister Biplab Deb to Delhi.

So, the message is clear that the BJP government currently is not in a position to implement its promises but is ready to punish the employees who are not "good" based on its own analysis. According to facts, such political vengeance happened 43 years back in the year 1975 in the state. Back then the employees went for 13 days' strike and the then Congress government led by Sukhamoy Sengupta had cut the salary of the employees for those 13 days. In 1974 too, the government had cut the one day salary of the government employees for going to strike for one day. However, in the following years there have been strikes called both by the ruling and the opposition and no governments issued such orders which punish the employees who remained absent. Obviously, government employees are not happy as such undemocratic orders once again resurfaced to the state after 43 years. According to reports, all the cabinet ministers are not on the same page on this issue. However, the head of the government was adamant to punish the employees who were absent. Still there is time for the government to reconsider its order which, otherwise, is a direct attack on the democratic rights of the citizens of the state given by the Indian constitution.


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