Bharatiya Janata Party MP and former Union minister Anantkumar Hegde has lashed out at Indian Administrative Service officer S Sasikanth Senthil, who resigned as deputy commissioner of Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district after criticising the central government on September 6. Hegde represents the Uttara Kannada constituency in Parliament.

The bureaucrat had said it was unethical on his part to continue as a civil servant when “fundamental building blocks of diverse democracy are being compromised”. “I also strongly feel that the coming days will present extremely difficult challenges to the basic fabric of our nation and that I would be better off outside the IAS to continue with my work at making life better for all,” Senthil had added in his resignation letter.

“Serving the government and yet questioning people representative’s decision taken as per constitutional norms, besides labelling it as fascist amounts to nothing less than Rajadroha [treason]!” Hegde said in a message accompanied by a video that was posted on Twitter on Monday.

“As a member of the Indian civil services, he should not criticise and question a decision taken by the government, which has also been passed by Parliament,” Hegde said, according to The Quint. “This amounts to treachery of the highest order against the state. The officers must behave in support of the government.”

The BJP leader, who is known for making controversial remarks, said Senthil’s comments were not an exercise of his freedom of speech but “insolence and disobedience in the name of freedom”. Hegde asked Senthil to go to Pakistan, and called for an investigation into his comments. The former Union minister said the “forces” that had influenced the IAS officer must be brought out into the open.

“This is not just treachery against the country, but also the government,” Hegde said. “This is an unforgivable offence. For a serving IAS officer to criticise the government’s actions should not be permitted and it must never happen. It can be questioned if it goes against Constitution but in this case, it shows the officer’s arrogance and disobedience.”

Hegde had criticised Senthil’s resignation on Sunday as well. “The state government should realise that it should have sacked him after he opened his polluted mindset against the Union Government,” he had tweeted. “But cajoling this Gaddar [traitor] to return, amounts to treacherous act against the nation.” The BJP MP was referring to Karnataka Chief Secretary Chief Secretary TM Vijaya Bhaskar’s request to Senthil to reconsider his resignation.

Controversial figure

Hegde had courted controversy earlier this year by appearing to praise Mahatma Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse. He made the remarks while commenting on two tweets. One of the tweets, by academic Madhu Kishwar, said Gandhi’s assassination was worthy of condemnation. However, she added that she admired Godse’s “heroic courage” to surrender and face trial, “staying firm on his version of patriotism”.

In response, Hedge tweeted that he was glad that “today’s generation debates in a changed perceptional environment and gives good scope for the condemned to be heard upon”. Godse would have “finally felt happy with this debate”, he added.

In response to another tweet calling for freedom of expression, Hegde wrote: “Time to assert and move away from being apologetic! If not now....When???” The tweets were later deleted.

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