A political game of one-upmanship reportedly being played between Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Home Minister R R Patil is costing the Maharashtra police dearly.
With general and state assembly elections scheduled for the next year, both the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are locked in a bitter fight over who will be the next commissioner of Mumbai.
According to Mantralaya sources, the situation is grim. “The officer who is recommended by the NCP is rejected by the Congress and the NCP refuses officers backed by the Congress,” said a senior official. While Chavan belongs to the Congress, Patil is a senior leader of the NCP.
This ‘who-blinks-first’ game is seriously affecting the morale of the police force, especially the Indian Police Service (IPS) officers.
While Patil, who takes instructions from his chief Sharad Pawar, is for Rakesh Maria, the current head of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), Chavan’s favourites include Javed Ahmed, additional director general (ADG), law and order, and Vijay Kamble (ADG, state traffic).
The main reason for this face-off between the Congress and the NCP is the upcoming elections.
“Both the parties want the officer of their choice to become commissioner,” said another senior official from the home department.
On October 21, when the Police Establishment Board (PEB) cleared a proposal to reduce the number of posts of directors general from five to four, the home department was taken by surprise and wanted to know if the PEB had any legal standing to recommend the change.
“This move by the PEB gave an impression that it was being done to make an impact on the appointment of the police commissioner,” the officer said. The state government is yet to decide on PEB’s proposal.
Meanwhile, the inordinate delay by the government in promotions and postings has severely affected the morale and functioning of IPS officers in the state.
“It does not matter any more,” lamented a senior IPS officer from the state. “There has been so much delay that it has become a mockery now. For the past few months, officers are in a dilemma, because they are awaiting promotions and postings. They cannot even function properly because the orders can come any day,” the officer said.
Another officer, whose promotion as IG has been long overdue, said his bags have been packed for three months. “I have packed everything, so that when the orders come, I don’t waste time, but the wait has been painstakingly long and there is no sign on when the postings will happen,” the officer said.
Because of political interference, IPS officers in Maharashtra have been at the receiving end. “My batchmates in other states have already been promoted as ADGs (additional directors-general),” said an IG-level officer.
“In states like Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, promotions and postings are done in a systematic and time-bound manner,” the officer said.
My way or the highway
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s favourites for the the post of the next commissioner of Mumbai include Javed Ahmed, additional director general, law and order, and Vijay Kamble (ADG, state traffic)
Home Minister R R Patil, who takes instructions from his chief Sharad Pawar, favours Rakesh Maria, the current head of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) for the post of the next commissioner of Mumbai