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Free bureaucrats from politicians: CEC

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | July 30, 2003 17:37 IST
Last Updated: July 30, 2003 20:17 IST

After facing the ire of sundry politicians, now it is adulation. But James Michael Lyngdoh's famous stiff upper lip is still holding on.

That, however, hasn't prevented this miser with words to speak his mind out on his impressions about Indian politics, bureaucracy, election commission and the current talk of the town -- Ramon Magsaysay Award.

Admitting that he has not been impressed with even a single politician, Lyngdoh said the bureaucracy should be freed from politicians to bring down bureaucratic corruption. "If you are getting exposed too much to politicians you are bound to be corrupt," Lyngdoh told rediff.com.

"This is true of any set of politicians, there is not much difference between them."

"If you are getting exposed to them for too long, you will get cancer," he said. "If you are an ordinary bureaucrat you are working under politicians all the time that makes all the difference."

"If all these people (bureaucrats) could be freed from transfers and postings, it will be a different situation all together," he said. "We get very good work from the same bureaucracy during elections. We get very good work. But obviously we treat them differently. If you follow certain norms, then you get good work otherwise you won't."

The Magsaysay award, Lyngdoh said, is also recognition of the free and fair election that the Election Commission was able to carry out in Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir. The Commission, he added, was able to do a good job in the two states because of the important role the media played.

Asked about the harsh criticism that BJP, especially Narendra Modi, mounted against him during Gujarat election, Lyngdoh said he doesn't regret anything that he did as the Chief Election Commissioner and doesn't hold a grudge against any particular individual.

"I don't get into personal things against anyone. I just do my job that is all," Lyngdoh said. Some people, he admitted, might read the award as an indication of the stand that he took during the election to Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir.

Asked if his tough stand went ultimately in favour of Modi, he said, "They could have favoured, they could have gone against himů we gave them credibility, to people who have won the election."

"Whoever had to win won, we have nothing against that. Somebody has to win somebody has to lose. That is none of our business," Lyngdoh said.

He said it is only in his present post that the media gave attention to what he has been doing all his life. "In fact I have been doing this all my life, but this time one gets recognition from you people. You were not there on earlier occasions so what one did went unnoticed," Lyngdoh said, recollecting his days as a bureaucrat in Bihar.

When asked if the award was recognition that he didn't get in India, Lyngdoh retorted, "I certainly will not say that because all of you gave me more recognition that I deserve."

Lyngdoh said he and his wife have recently completed construction of their house in Hyderabad, the southern city where he plans to settle down after retiring in February next year.

In a lighter vein the CEC said he would be busy looking afteráhis three dogs, when asked about his future plans.

Lyngdoh admitted the award, with sizeable money attached to it, looked 'eccentric' to him and has not given thought about what do it.

He said the election commission was preparing for the next bout of elections. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu figured high in his list of states with bad electoral practices.

He said it would take much time for improving the quality of electoral rolls. "Electoral roll in most parts is not as clean as it should be. It will take many years to bring it to standard because everybody wants to cheat."

To be a good CEC, he said, "You have to be honest with yourself. And you shouldn't be bothered about other people. You do what you think is right."

The award is also recognition of the fairness of election commission, he said.

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