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The State Chief Information Commissioner: The Interview That Wasn’t

Information about the appointment and roles of the official from Manipur Talks (manipurtalks.com), ImpactTV (www.impacttv.in) and Chief Information Commission (cic.gov.in, Government of India) and the figures from the Tehalka’s archive (The Lake And The Fake Firm by Kunal Majumder, http://goo.gl/1k3Fa7)

Manipur Talks (5 May 2015): Barely a day after Former IFS officer Thounaojam Ibobi today took oath as the Chief Information Commissioner of Manipur, allegations are pouring in saying the Loktak scam amounting to Rs 224 crores occurred during his tenure as the director of Loktak Development Authority Project. If these allegations are true we should all be ashamed for being helpless and losers.

ImpactTV (4 May 2015): Former IFS officer Thounaojam Ibobi today took oath as the Chief Information Commissioner of Manipur. Governor KK Paul administered the oath at a function held at the Raj Bhavan banquet hall. The function was attended by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, Speaker Th. Lokeshor, Deputy Chief Minister, Council of Ministers, MLAs, Chief Secretary PC Lawmkunga, DGP Shahid Ahmed and top civil and police officials.


In pursuit of freedom, Ipf: Good evening, respected commissioner, I bow to you. And congratulations on the great news about your appointment as the Chief Information Commissioner of Manipur.

Thounaojam Ibobi, Thi: Good evening. Thank you. God bless the government.

Ipf: It seems to be a sudden change of plan from the government to elect you. Is it true you were appointed in haste? What were your previous posts?

Thi: No, no, no. That’s completely wrong. The respected Additional Chief Secretary, Mr Nikhilesh Jha who is in charge of Administrative Reform had issued an order on April 25 to appoint me to the vacant post of State Chief Information Commissioner. This post had been as well lying vacant for two years. So it was planned and organised in the best way possible. In my long illustrious career, I also had the experience of working as the Chief Animal Warden in the forest department and the project director of the Loktak Development Authority. Now my sole purpose is to facilitate the Great Indian Right to Information Act to every men and women in this god-forbidden state. God bless Mr Jha and Sir Okram Ibobi.

Ipf: Please tell us something more the State Information Commission.
   
Thi: The state government constitutes the State Information Commission through a gazetted notification. The commission has one State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC)—now that is me—and not more than ten State Information Commissioners (SIC) to be appointed by the Governor. Our commission exercises powers without being subjected to any other authority. The chief minister heads the appointment committee, which also comprises the leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly and one cabinet minister nominated by Sir O Ibobi. My salary is the same as that of an election commissioner and the chief secretary of the state government. Lastly, our main duty is to receive complaints from any underlings. God bless the common people.
Chief Information Commisioner Thounaojam Ibobi
Image by Njohnson Lhungdim (DIPR) / E-pao.net

Ipf: How can we exactly get the benefits?

Thi: As a responsible citizen, you can inspect the works, documents and records of any government agency. You can take notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records. You can also take certified samples of material. Briefly, you can secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. God bless the RTI Act.

Ipf: What is your main concern about serving as the commissioner?

Thi: My first priority is for the people. They are my primary concern. And people, I mean my wife, my kids, my bastards, my mongrels and my whole family. Before you judge me, when I say people, I also mean all kinds of people. People are people, just as family is family and money is money. Please don’t mind but I have the need to feel good at all costs while serving as the commissioner or anytime. Also see that my heart also beats even for my mongrels. God bless the people.

Ipf: And how can you exactly get the benefits of serving as the commissioner?

Thi: That’s very kind of you to ask. Let me explain shortly. Right from my virgin days, I have been worried about my descendants. Three quarters of my life have spent for the people. The remaining days I have decided I will work only for posterity. God bless the future. 

Ipf: Several RTI activists and as many newspapers are accusing you of corruption charges—particularly in the 224-crore Loktak phumdi-cleaning scam—during your stint as a project director at the LDA. They are calling you a virus, a threat to the state, a crooked official who is going to take charge of a defunct department with ulterior motives. Where do you place yourself in this shitstorm?

Thi: I don’t really like name calling. I come from a respected family. And you have been asking questions all along. Let me take my turn now. How can the public memory be so long? Don’t you see the irony that anything is possible in Manipur? It has been, for my wife’s sake, six long years. The total cost of the project cost was Rs 224 crore and the amount sanctioned by the Planning Commission was Rs 90 crore. K Pro Works, which was then worth only Rs 10 lakh, was given an advance of Rs 16.5 crore but please don’t ask me how; I have a heart disease. God bless the Apollo Hospital. The Delhi branch.


[Thi, off the record, repeat off the record: I’d like to know how Sir Ibobi can get away with all the 10% booties while why we, the foot soldiers, get all the blame for. Plus, where have all the social workers gone who took part in the orgy at Babupura when we got the sanction from the Planning Commission? Or for that matter, who in their right is not into robbing and looting the public exchequer in this state? Please ask the newspaper people and the activists. Just don’t tell I ask for it.]

Ipf: However, a few members of a vigilante group have spread a propaganda that they will be shooting any corrupt official, minister or government servant dead. They state they will not be following the traditional bullet-in-the-knee ritual. Any comment?

Thi: Is that true? God bless my life.

Ipf: Dr Dhanabir Laishram of Manipur University says, in Manipur we have:

‘healthcare without proper sanitation, food security without employment, urbanisation without industrialisation, education without quality, construction without planning, democracy without democratic politics, election without politics, religion without moral ethics, working without economic literacy, teachers without teaching, salary without working, security for ruling elites only, government for security personnel and relatives, government for wealthy classes, people without political consciousness, struggle without ideology, drug smuggling by high ranking officers, social workers for election, political map without protecting boundary and so on.’ What is your opinion?

Thi: I’m too old to care about those things. I don’t even remember when I have to perform my next enema. Let me check my diary. And please, you can go now. God bless my bowel.
-Concluded.


Disclaimer: All the names of persons and entities mentioned above might be real and you should not believe it at your own risk.



Related pieces:

And the Most Prestigious Award Goes to: http://kapilarambam.blogspot.in/2014/06/and-most-prestigious-award-goes-to.html

Payoff: Top Manipuri Role Models: http://kapilarambam.blogspot.in/2014/11/payoff-top-manipuri-role-models.html  




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