Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who recently received an award from the United Nations on behalf of the Chief Minister’s office, was actually nominated for the award by his own government.
The rules of nomination for the United Nations Public Service Award clearly state that self-nominations — “when the institution being nominated and the institution making the nomination are the same” – are not accepted. But the Chief Minister’s staff insists that the office and the government both headed by Oommen Chandy would count as completely independent entities.
“The award was for the Chief Minister’s office, while the nomination was made by the Kerala government, which is a third party,” said P.T. Chacko, Mr. Chandy’s press secretary.
The United Nations gives away its Public Service Awards to programmes and organisations in member countries under five categories.
The office of the Chief Minister took out large advertisements in newspapers across the State on the eve of what the ad claimed was ‘Kerala’s hour of honour’ – the Chief Minister’s office receiving the United Nations Public Service Awards for 2013. The award was seen as a global recognition for Mr. Chandy’s mass contact programme, which received over 5 lakh complaints.
Though the Chief Minister’s office claims that Mr. Chandy was the first Chief Minister from the country to receive the honour, programmes in many other States of the country have received the award before. Its previous recipients include the Aarogyam scheme of a District Health Society of Uttar Pradesh, a drinking water supply programme of the government of Gujarat, ‘e-Procurement’ project of the government of Andhra Pradesh, and projects in Nagaland, and Delhi. The awards for these States were received by programme heads and not the Chief Ministers.
“No government, though, has made a celebration out of it like the Chandy government has,” said P. Rajeeve, MP.
Political leaders also did not miss the irony of the fact that Mr. Chandy’s office received an award for ‘Preventing and Combating Corruption in Public Service’ at Bahrain when his office was facing accusations of corruption at home.
“He received the award when the Chief Minister’s office is itself a centre of corruption,” said Mr. Rajeeve. “Keeping aside the possibility of Chandy’s involvement, there is clear evidence to show that his staff have been involved in corruption,” he said.
“The Chief Minister’s office is a total mess,” said T.M. Thomas Isaac, MLA. “The mass contact programme is a failure. The Chief Minister’s time is devoted to running these petty things that he does not have time to look after other affairs of the State that is the responsibility of a Minister, like supervising his lieutenants. That is not good governance,” said Dr. Isaac. He said Mr. Chandy was paying dearly for leaving affairs of the State in the hands of his personal staff.