The Madhya Pradesh cabinet will for the first time hold a boat meet on the Narmada river at Khandwa on February 2 to polish up its pro-Dalit image tarred by government graft charges against a few Dalit IAS officer. Dropping of charges against Dalit officers is believed to be also on cards.
Indication to this effect first emerged on Sunday when Dalit IAS officer Shashi Karnawat, who is under suspension in a graft case, dropped her plan to end her life by taking ‘jal samadhi’ (drowning) in river Narmada in Khandwa district on February 2. She was sentenced to five years jail by Mandla district court in 2013 in a corruption case and is under suspension since.
Speaking on behalf of Karnawat, another Dalit IAS officer Ramesh Sheoram Thete (IAS:1993:MP) said state Finance Minister Jayant Malaiya was in continuous touch with him after Karnawat sat on ‘maun vrat’ (observe silence) from January 29 and had decided to take ‘jal samadhi’, pressing her demand for reinstating her and higher wages during the suspension period.
The state government has softened its stand on the two demands of Karnawat, one, on reinstating her,and second, on offering her 75 per cent of wages during the suspension instead of 50 per cent which she is currently getting, Thete said.
Time has come to reinstate Karnawat as the MP High Court has admitted a petition challenging her conviction, he said.
The state government had recently given its nod to prosecute Thete in an alleged case of illegal disposal of land in Ujjain during his tenure as additional commissioner around two years back, lodged against him with the Lokayukta (state anti-corruption watchdog). If all goes as planned, charges against Thete would also be dropped in due course.
Thete and Karnawat have opened a front against the MP government for over a fortnight now alleging that it was prompt in taking action against Dalit officers while ignoring similar cases of misconduct involving officers from upper castes.
Thete had also taken part in a dharna (sit-in) organised by Dalit Adivasi Forum (DAF) on January 11 here to protest against the alleged discrimination against Dalit and tribal bureaucrats.
On the sideline of the DAF protest, Mohan Patil, a national office-bearer of Republican Party of India, had told reporters that complaints were pending against 18 upper caste IAS and IPS officers with MP Lokayukta but sanction to prosecute was given only against Thete.