Former Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Patna today, making political speculators go ‘gotcha’. The IPS officer’s sudden decision to take VRS following his leadership in Bihar Police’s Sushant Singh Rajput case was political, they had said the day the IPS officer voluntarily retired. Pandey had stepped down as the state police chief less than a week ago.
Gupteshwar Pandey says he went to the state headquarters of the JD(U) just to “thank” the chief minister for the trust Kumar had reposed in him. “I discussed nothing political with the chief minister. I have worked with him for long and, after retirement, I just wanted to thank him for his support. If and when I decide to join any political party, I will make it known to all, Pandey told reporters outside the JD(U) office on Birchand Patel Marg.
The IPS officer, who voluntarily retired, with less than half a year before he was scheduled to superannuate, has chosen to keep his cards close to his chest, Bihar observers but say he is all set to join the JD(U) and get a party nomination from one of the assembly segments — probably in his native District Buxar.
The JD(U), party sources said, would consider Gupteshwar Pandey for the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat for the by-poll. The death of sitting JD(U) MP Baidyanath Mahto left the seat vacant.
The JD(U) draws its support largely from among non-Yadav OBCs and pasmanda (backward) Muslims. The party hopes to add Brahmin votes to its kitty with the addition of Gupteshwar Pandey, In Bihar, the Indian National Congress has traditionally attracted Brahmin votes But members of the caste have of late drifted towards the BJP, with India’s oldest party reducing to irrelevance in one state after another.
Pandey had hit the headlines recently for his vocal condemnation of the non-cooperation meted out to the Bihar Police team that had visited Mumbai to probe the death by suicide of Patna-born actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Gupteshwar Pandey had, uncharacteristic of a government officer, slammed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation authorities in Mumbai for forcibly quarantining a young IPS officer from Patna. The quarantined Vinay Tiwari was heading the probe team until the case went to the CBI by the Supreme Court’s intervention on 19 August.
Gupteshwar Pandey had made his political tilt apparent, saying that starlet Rhea Chakraborty, accused of abetting Rajput’s ‘suicide’, did not have the auqāt (standing) to make snide remarks about Nitish Kumar.
The leading ruling party in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena had accused Gupteshwar Pandey of acting as a pawn of the ruling dispensation in Bihar ahead of its assembly election. Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut then said as the DGP announced taking VRS that Pandey was running a political agenda with his statements on the Bollywood case. Raut had said the JD(U) would surely reward the retiring officer for that.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh (NCP) had said yesterday that when Gupteshwar Pandey quit his job, it confirmed his suspicion that he was using the Rajput case to join the BJP; that the statement did not behove a police officer.
Pandey had previously brushed aside criticism from the Shiv Sena, saying, “They keep saying many things, I don’t give much credence to it.”
Pandey had resigned from service in 2009 to contest the Lok Sabha elections held that year. His resignation letter, however, never reached the authority. He was reinstated into service a few months later.
Earlier, on 22 September, Governor Fagu Chauhan expeditiously approved the VRS application. This cleared the decks for Pandey’s future move. The governor made an exception in this case with the waiver of a mandatory three-month-long cooling-off period for government servants.