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AAP, BJP in war of words over removal of AIIMS CVO

PTI 22 Aug 2014, 12:11:51 PM IST
New Delhi: The removal of AIIMS Chief Vigilance Officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi from his post led to a slugfest today between BJP and AAP, which sought Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan's sacking over the issue.  

While BJP said the official was ineligible to hold the post and there was no witch-hunting or victimisation in the matter, AAP accused it of not allowing honest officers to carry out their job properly.

Vardhan today defended the removal of Chaturvedi saying he was “not eligible” for the post and that his transfer was “routine”.

“He (Chaturvedi) was not at all eligible for the post he was holding at AIIMS. We were informed that without approval of the Central Vigilance Commission, nobody can be assigned to the post of CVO.

This was brought to our notice, we took cognisance of the same and removed him from the post,” Vardhan said.

Chaturvedi, a 2002-batch Indian Forest Service officer who has a reputation for being a whistleblower in his parent state of Haryana, was removed from his post last week with the Health Ministry citing no reason for it.  

AAP has accused Vardhan of discouraging an honest officer from doing his job and removing him abruptly from his post as the CVO's tenure was for a period of four years and was to end in June, 2016.

AAP leader Manish Sisodia said, “On the one hand Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeps talking about eradicating corruption but, instead of strengthening different institutions in the country, the government is discouraging honest officers by transferring them.

“(Vardhan) projects himself as someone with a clean image, but he has acted opposite. He should be immediately sacked.” The party alleged that the transfer was done at the behest of BJP general secretary JP Nadda.

“Chaturvedi had unearthed many scams and, in of them, the culprit happened to be an IAS officer of Himachal Pradesh cadre.”

Another AAP leader, Prashant Bhushan, said, “Nadda, who also happens to be from the same state, put pressure on Vardhan to remove an honest officer without giving any proper reason.”

But BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said, “Chaturvedi is not eligible for the post of CVO. He has consistently held the post as an additional charge and the CVC has asked for a panel of names to appoint a regular officer to the post.” He added that there was “no witch-hunting” in the matter.  

As to Nadda having written a letter seeking Chaturvedi's removal, the BJP spokesperson said, “If, as an MP, he has brought anything to the notice of authorities regarding the violation of rules and procedures, I don't think it is impropriety in any way.

I think politics is being done over the issue.”

The Centre and the Congress government in Haryana appeared to be on the same page as regards the issue with BJP defending Vardhan and maintaining that Chaturvedi's removal was not a case of victimisation.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had vehemently opposed Chaturvedi's deputation to the Centre in 2012 and did not relieve the officer. The PMO, however, intervened and cleared his appointment.