The corridors of power in the Mantralaya and the Mumbai police commissionerate are once again abuzz with whispers on who is going to be the next Mumbai police chief.
Additional director general (ADG) of police (state traffic) Vijay Kamble and chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Rakesh Maria have emerged as top contenders, according to home department sources.
Chief of the state’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), director general (DG) Raj Prem Khilnani is superannuating on September 30.
Home department officials say after Khilnani retires, two posts of the rank of director general will fall vacant — Khilnani’s post and the post of DG (home guards), which went vacant after Sridevi Goel retired on March 31.
Several transfers, promotions and postings of the top brass of Mumbai and Maharashtra police have been pending for a long time. Khilnani’s retirement is expected to result in a large-scale reshuffle.
The home department is expected to announce the new Mumbai police chief on the day Khilnani retires. After Khilnani retires, current Mumbai police chief Satyapal Singh will be promoted as DG. He may be put in charge of the Maharashtra Police Housing Corporation. Even current ADG (law & order) Ahmad Javed is expected to be promoted as DG.
Singh and Javed are expected to fill up the two vacant DG posts in the state police.
Maharashtra has five DG rank posts, whereas there is provision for six. If that happens, Thane police commissioner KP Raghuvanshi too is likely to be promoted as DG.
But all eyes will be on who is chosen to lead Mumbai Police into the upcoming Lok Sabha elections next year. “With general elections round the corner, the government is going to be very careful about who it appoints as police commissioner,” said a senior officer.
The decision is likely to be taken by CM Prithviraj Chavan and home minister RR Patil. But the latter will be “guided” in his decision by his party chief and Union minister Sharad Pawar.
If seniority is considered then Kamble emerges as the top contender because he will be the senior-most ADG in the state after Singh and Ahmad are promoted as DG. Belonging to the 1980 batch of IPS officers, Kamble has earlier handled important postings — Navi Mumbai commissioner and Mumbai traffic chief.
But Maria, who is from the 1981 batch, has a superior track record.
He has handled several crucial portfolios in the past, including as the joint commissioner of the Mumbai crime branch and the railway police commissioner.
If Kamble is chosen, he will get approximately 18 months to lead the city police force. If Maria is chosen, he will get more than 30 months.
If he is not promoted as DG, Raghuvanshi too will be a strong contender. ADG (prisons) Meeran Borwankar is another serious contender. If appointed, Borwankar will have the distinction of being the first woman police commissioner of Mumbai Police.
ADG (special operations) PK Jain is the senior-most officer in the 1981 batch and is also in the race along with Satish Mathur (ADG, establishment).
According to a senior officer, the post of police chief is important and crucial, especially with the Lok Sabha elections coming up and the state going to polls in October–November next year. “The commissioner should be someone who, apart from being a senior, should have a meritorious track record and someone who knows the city’s pulse,” the officer said.