The soft spoken doctor, who took over as home minister two years ago, has had a stormy innings so far with his handling of sizzling controversies including the church attacks and the acts of moral policing leaving a lot to be desired. Probably one of the most criticised ministers in the state Cabinet besides the Reddy brothers of course, Dr V.S. Acharya has stoically taken it all in his stride knowing quite well that the public outcry would die down sooner than later. This trusted associate of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa spoke to Bhaskar Hegde about the law and order situation in the state and police reforms.
You will soon be completing two years in office. Looking back, how do you rate your performance as home minister?
I am pretty satisfied. The law and order situation should not be gauged in isolation. If you were to take into account the situation prevailing across the country, we are definitely better off. Several initiatives have been launched including the modernisation of the police force and the internal security wings including ATS, ANF and Coastal Security Force. I am confident that in a year or so, there will be perceptible changes.
There does not seem to be any perceptible change at the grassroots, be it corruption or the problems in ensuring a speedy and fair investigation into controversial cases.
We just cannot wish away corruption. We are implementing several measures like filing e-complaints which can put an end to the misuse of power. I agree that there is an urgent need to clamp down on corruption but this has to start from the top. We are trying to be a role model on that front. Take any parameter like crime detection rate, recovery rate and conviction rate, Karnataka’s performance is far better than other states.
Caste and cash deals seem to be playing a big role in the appointment and transfer of officials.
We have introduced a new system wherein everyone should function in both executive and non-executive posts. We have set up a Police Establishment Board which will take care of police transfers. Transfer of officials above the rank of deputy superintendent of police, is done through the department of personnel and administrative reforms (DPAR). I have to admit that there is a lot of pressure on us. We are implementing changes, slowly though.
Coming to the issue of security, the city has witnessed two bomb blasts in two years. They were low-intensity bombs which ensured the damage was minimal. Would you admit that you have failed to come up with a fool-proof strategy to secure the IT hub of the country?
We are facing logistic problems. Some of the accused were trained in Kerala. They come here, finish their assignment and go back. They don’t do it there. I would still assert that compared to Mumbai or any other north Indian city, we are much safer. Of course, there is a lot to learn once a major incident like a bomb blast happens. The blasts at Chinnaswamy stadium have forced us to put in place a new protocol. In future, we will take over the entire premises when a match or an important event is happening, not just the ground or the galleries.
Aren’t you going to fix responsibility and take disciplinary action against senior officials to send out the message that they cannot be caught napping like this?
The investigation has just started. We have to complete the investigation before fixing responsibility.
The Opposition had accused you of being soft, naive and a proxy home minister. Do you feel you deserve to be described in this manner?
I have been tough when the situation demands such an approach. I do not have to be assertive and make a show of it. If someone is saying I am not assertive, I can give an example to counter them. Which home minister would refuse to extend the deadline for the city’s night life despite all the pressure to do so? It show how strong I can be. And I am no dummy. In a democratic set-up, crucial decisions are taken after consulting the Chief Minister.