CBI Golden Jubilee
PR for DDT-a recall
CBI celebrated its golden jubilee in April. The main speaker at the function to mark the milestone was Gopal Krishna Gandhi, a distinguished former bureaucrat and a scion of the Mahatma. Speech, Gandhi cautioned the premier investigation agency that it should strive to rid itself of its reputation as DDT- dirty tricks department. He also added that it should not be a loose cannon, while claiming independence from government and should hold itself accountable for its actions.CBI should be complemented for inviting an outspoken person like Gopal Gandhi. His cautionary words are very timely because time and again CBI has not been able to live up to its lofty Motto ; 'Industry, Impartiality, Integrity'. CBI's Golden jubilee occasion reminds me of an incident when the CBI was about to celebrate its silver jubilee in 1988.
The then CBI Director, the famous Katre, called me with a request to prepare a 'publicity' plan for marking the occasion. In a meeting with him for taking a briefing, Katre told me that the plan should be an ambitious one so that it could be a year -long recall of its record of service. He reminded me of the American film series 'FBI story' and desired to sponsor a production of a similar TV docudrama on CBI.
While submitting to the CBI Director the year long multi-media campaign plan, in the intro I raised my doubts about the wisdom of a high profile publicity blitz, since CBI was in the midst of a controversy surrounding the Bofors scandal as well as its other not so distinguished record. I also mentioned to him that any attempt to burnish its image could open the room for exhuming CBI's negative record as well. I suggested that he should consult CBI's political bosses before thinking of a big campaign to mark the silver jubilee.
In the meanwhile, the Director was approaching his retirement from service. P.Chidambaram was the minister of state for Personnel, one of the most efficient minister to head that department, He had launched several innovative programmes for streamlining the central administrative system, giving the Department a new profile. It was well known that he was close to the prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. One of Chidambaram's initiatives was to ensure that there was advance action for filling up top level vacancies caused by retirements .As Chidambaram was concurrently MOS ( internal security) in the Home ministry, he was effectively in charge of the central police organisations (CPOs)such as CRPF,BSF and CBI that was directly under the PM as minister of Personnel. In that capacity he initiate the proposals for filling up the heads of CPOs likely to fall vacant.
One day Chidambaram called me to his office and gave me a list of appointments approved by the PM and the list included the post of CBI Director.Its present incumbent Katre as well as some of the other CPO heads had several months to go before their superannuation. In the case of Katre he had almost six months of service left .I was somewhat uneasy in announcing the appointments so much in advance as such a notification would render the serving heads of CPOs ineffective long before the end of their tenure. I took courage to submit my apprehensions to the minister and as expected I was over ruled. The minister sternly told me that those were orders approved by PM himself. And on behalf of the government, I issued an official press release announcing the new appointments.
In the case of CBI Director, the new appointee was one Radhakrishnan Nair, who was next to the present chief Katre. As the Bofors investigation under CBI meandered and controversy engulfed the PM, Katre instead of demitting office on superannuation, went on to get several extensions. And his successor Nair left CBI without becoming its chief.
Amidst all such twists and turns no one cared about CBI's elaborate Silver jubilee celebration plans.
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