Inside Babudom: An experience that Herb Dhaliwal would love to forget fast
Herb Dhaliwal, who has the distinction of becoming first Sikh member of Canadian Parliament – House of Commons in 1993, and later as the first Canadian of Punjabi origin to become a Federal Minister in 1997, had a day that he would love to forget fast.
Herb Dhaliwal, who enjoys the credibility of a gentleman politician, may carry home a mixed bag of feelings from his ongoing visit to his ancestral State of Punjab. Herb Dhaliwal, who has the distinction of becoming first Sikh member of Canadian Parliament – House of Commons in 1993, and later as the first Canadian of Punjabi origin to become a Federal Minister in 1997, had a day that he would love to forget fast.
He had an appointment with the Deputy Commissioner of Kapurthala, Mr Vishesh Sarangal, for 10.30 this morning. After waiting for an hour, he came out of the waiting room of the Deputy Commissioner, without even meeting him. All he told was that the Deputy Commissioner was busy, and he should wait. No explanations were given to him as to what was keeping the Deputy Commissioner busy.
“It was frustrating. I was waiting and waiting and was told that Saab was busy and would meet him only after he was free from his meeting.
“I had travelled all the way from Patiala to reach Kapurthala 10 minutes before my appointment,” rued Dhaliwal saying that “I had gone to meet him in connection with public works am undertaking in villages of Punjab to improve living conditions there. I have no personal axe to grind with him. I do not know him personally as I have never met him before.
“Courtesy demands that if he got busy with a meeting, he should have left a message with his staff that I could come later and meet him than making me sit for an hour without letting me know the reason,” lamented Herb Dhaliwal.
Protocol also demands that former MPs, Ministers and visiting dignitaries be accorded special attention as and when they come to call on district or state officials.
When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner of Kapurthala, Vishesh Sarangal, held that he had highest respect and regards for Herb Dhaliwal.
“In fact, he had an appointment with me on Monday. But he could not keep his appointment. He called me 45 minutes after the appointed time that he was held up in traffic and may not be able to reach for some time more.
“Realizing his inability to keep his date, I gave him an appointment for today a 10.30 am. As luck would have it, there was a Video Conference fixed by the State Headquarters today at 10.30 and I had to attend it. I did not know how long the VC would continue. So, I left a message that he should wait till my meeting ends.
“It was beyond my control. But now if he has chosen to paint me in that colour, it is his choice. Immediately after the VC ended, I tried to call him. First, he did not pick the phone and later I explained to him my position,” clarified Vishesh Sarangal, holding that he was the most accessible bureaucrat.
“Now tell me where I am at fault. I had neither any prior intimation of this VC nor was I involved in convening it. It came as a directive from the State headquarters and keeping in view the importance of the subject, I had no choice but to attend it,” concluded Vishesh Sarangal.
It may be an isolated incident of its type where both the parties had reasons and explanations for their grief but there are instances when some of the public servants, especially at district and state headquarters, because of their assignments and unscheduled meetings with the State headquarters keep the representatives of public waiting for long hours.
“Why do they plan important meetings during the time fixed for meeting public representatives and visitors,” quipped a volunteer of an NGO.
We tried to reach the Punjab NRI minister Kuldip Singh Dhaliwal on his mobile phone and through social media but could not reach him for his comments.