The Mumbai police finally got a commissioner on Saturday night when the government appointed Rakesh Maria. The city has been remaining without a police chief for 15 days after Satyapal Singh suddenly quit to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Maria's appointment was preceded by some intense lobbying by politicians and tough bargaining between chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and Union minister Sharad Pawar.
Maria, who has 33 years of experience, belongs to the 1981 batch of the IPS and was heading the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS). He will assume office on Sunday.
His appointment, however, has also led to some resentment. Two other contenders for the coveted post -- Vijay Kamble, ADG (State Highway Traffic), and Ahmed Javed, ADG (Law and Order), have reportedly threatened to quit after being sidelined.
Till Saturday evening, Kamble was the front-runner for the post. "But a late evening meeting between home minister RR Patil and chief minister Prithviraj Chavan abruptly changed the game," said a source who is privy to the development.
"It's a big disappointment for Javed and Kamble. They were eyeing the post for quite some time. Both have reportedly threatened to quit for being overlooked for the prestigious appointment," police sources said.
Javed, known for his integrity, was promised the post in April. Kamble, who is a popular figure in police circles, neither denied nor confirmed reports about their quitting.
Kamble has a good rapport with Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who lobbied for him in Delhi. "Shinde even tried to intervene by recommending Kamble's name for the post in a secret meeting with Sonia Gandhi, sources said.
"However, Chavan, who is not in good terms with Shinde, ignored his recommendation. To settle scores with Shinde and bridge the political gap with NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Chavan appointed Maria. Nevertheless, Maria is an upright and efficient officer with a good track record," sources added.
"The NCP was aggressively in favour of Maria as the Mumbai CP, ahead of the Lok Sabha and state elections. The CM wanted to scuttle the NCP plan by appointing another officer. But the NCP was not in a mood to let go, given the fragile condition of the Congress. At the last moment, the CM finally signed on Maria's appointment letter as the Mumbai CP," sources said.
Talking to dna, Maria confirmed his appointment. "I really thank everyone for the support," he said.
Maria's first posting in the city was as deputy commissioner of zone IV in Matunga, where he replaced YC Pawar who had just then demolished the empire of don Varadarajan Mudaliar in the '80s.
On Saturday, the home department also appointed Thane police commissioner KP Raghuvanshi as the director-general of the Maharashtra State Security Corp and Javed Ahmed as the director-general, home guards.
The post of DG (home guards) fell vacant with the superannuation of Sridevi Goel and the State Security Corporation has been without a chief after Arup Patnaik was shifted as director general (housing).
The newly constituted police establishment board, headed by additional chief secretary (home) Amitabh Rajan and consisting of senior police officials like DGP Sanjeev Dayal, met on Monday to recommend the government on these appointments.