Congress Says Govt Using Civil Servants For ‘Propaganda’, BJP Hits Back

Congress targeted government after it announced that Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra will be held from November 20 to January 25 across the country's 2.7 lakh panchayat areas.

Congress Chief Mallikarjun Kharge

The Congress on Monday alleged that civil servants are being used for propaganda by Prime Minister Narendra Modi led BJP government. 

Congress has targeted the government after it announced that Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra will be held from November 20 to January 25 across the country's 2.7 lakh panchayat areas. 

The government announced officers of joint secretary or deputy secretary ranks will be deputed as district Rath Prabharis to showcase and spread awareness about the central government's schemes achievements in the past nine years.

Congress’ national president Mallikarjun Kharge has shot a letter to Prime Minister Modi, demanding an immediate rollback, saying it is "essential that government machinery is kept out of politics".

Kharge said the order is in violation of the rules that bar government servants from taking part in any political activity. 

"While it is acceptable for government officers to disseminate information, to make them 'celebrate' and 'showcase' achievements blatantly turns them into political workers of the ruling party," Kharge wrote in the letter, also shared on X.

"If senior officers of departments are being deputed for marketing activity of the current government, the governance of our country will grind to a halt for the next six months," he said.

Kharge flagged another order by the Ministry of Defence, asking soldiers on leave to promote government schemes as "soldier-ambassadors".

"It is of utmost importance in a democracy that the Armed Forces are kept out of politics. The loyalty of every jawan is to the nation and to the Constitution," Kharge said.

He added forcing soldiers to become "marketing agents of government schemes is dangerous step towards politicization of the Armed Forces".

The move has also drawn criticism from the Left. "This sort of gross misuse of the governmental machinery has not been seen in India ever. Every department is being asked to propagate what has been achieved under the Narendra Modi government," CPM leader Sitaram Yechury was quoted by ANI as having said.

The BJP has hit back at the criticism, saying that public service delivery is the government's duty even though it "maybe an alien concept to the Congress Party".

"It baffles me to see the Congress Party have an issue with public servants reaching the grassroots to ensure saturation of schemes. If this not the basic tenet of governance, what is?" BJP chief JP Nadda posted in a thread on X.

"Regarding opposition to a 'Rath' it is a fit use of public resources unlike using warships as personal yachts," the BJP chief added, taking a swipe at the Congress over reports that claimed former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi used Navy warships for personal trips. Such claims have been rejected by senior officers in the past. They have said the former ministers did not breach protocol and that the warships were used for their security and official duties,”he said.

"If the Modi Govt wants to ensure saturation of all schemes and ensure all beneficiaries are reached, nobody who has the interest of the poor in his mind can have a problem. But Congress only has an interest in keeping the poor in poverty and hence their opposition to the saturation drive," Nadda added.