The Supreme Court’s bid to end political favoritism in appointment of DGP in states by ensuring the selection to be done through a panel decided by the UPSC, has brought into focus the bitter politics and intrigues at play, surrounding the appointment of police chief in Punjab.
Ignored for post of Punjab Police chief, 1985-batch IPS officer Mohammad Mustafa has announced that he will move the Supreme Court over being “ignored by the UPSC” in the panel, despite “fulfilling all the three criterion set up by the UPSC”.
Thursday’s appointment of Dinkar Gupta as the new Punjab DGP was was meant to end the two-year-long scramble for the post, started well before the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh took over the reins of the state. Instead, it has drawn fierce battle-lines between not just the police officers, but also within the government as well as the Congress party.
Mustafa, who is DGP of the state’s anti-drug Special Task Force, said that he would not sit quiet till he gets his “honour restored”. Mustafa also accused state’s officials of “playing foul and raising frugal issues”.
Without naming anyone, Mustafa while referring to Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and the outgoing DGP Suresh Arora, who attended the meeting with UPSC to finalise the panel of names, said, “They raised issues having no relevance to my professional capability, like the political career of my wife.” Mustafa’s wife, Razia Sultana, is a minister in CM Amarinder Singh’s Cabinet.
“I am just waiting for the official communication about my rejection. I will move the Supreme Court and challenge the panel. I want justice. I will expose a certain officer, who appears on the panel, in the coming days,” he told The Indian Express.
Dinkar Gupta’s appointment, however, has not come as a surprise for most. Name of Dinkar Gupta, considered a blue-eyed boy of the CM, whom a Cabinet minister on condition of anonymity describes as “a very efficient state intelligence chief”, was always doing rounds as the next DGP in the corridors of power. Gupta is also considered close to Arora, who is considered close to National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.
What made the entire issue murky was the fact that on Monday, when the panel was finalised, an advisor of the Chief Minister, confirmed to the media that Mustafa’s name was on the panel and he is likely to be the next DGP. Confusion prevailed on the panel for next two days even though Mustafa kept on claiming he was ignored by the panel. The confusion ended only after CM appointed Gupta on Thursday and it was confirmed that only 1987-batch IPS officers, including M K Tewari and V K Bhawra, were empanelled along with Gupta.
Earlier the state Congress unit planned to take the panel of names to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for his approval. Amarinder had also sought time from Rahul Gandhi. But with Mustafa announcing that he would move the SC, the order for Gupta’s appointment was issued on Thursday.
Mustafa, considered close to Amarinder for over a decade, was the frontrunner to be the DGP of the state after the change of guard in the state. While
the Chief Secretary was replaced, Amarinder decided to continue with Suresh Arora as DGP, as Mustafa had his share of critics in the Congress party.
By retaining Arora, Amarinder had not only invited criticism from opposition parties but also his partymen. PPCC president Sunil Jakhar, also considered a close aide of Amarinder, had then hit out at Arora at party’s internal meetings on the plea that “Akalis were having their way even during Congress regime and party workers, who faced police excesses during 10-year rule of Akalis, were ignored.”
A few Congress MLAs, especially from Malwa region, said they were “content with Dinkar Gupta”. But others said the “government had failed them”, while pointing out a statement by Lok Insaaf party MLA Simarjit Bains where he dubbed Gupta as a “xerox copy of Arora”.
While Gupta had strong supporters in CM and DGP Arora, Mustafa had some strong supporters in PPCC president Sunil Kumar Jakhar and several AICC leaders, as he was “more Congress-minded than anybody else,” a party leader said. It is learnt that even the AICC president Rahul Gandhi had it conveyed to the CM that he would like a DGP with Congress leanings instead of one with Akali leanings.
Mustafa said he was not perturbed that he was not appointed the DGP but he was upset that he was not even on the panel. “It is not a quest for being the DGP anymore. This is the question of my honour. It is a stigma that I did not appear on the panel.”
He said, “I have no issues with the CM. He is a man of ethics. I know him for long. He is an ex-army officer and respects seniority. He would not like it that my seniority has been ignored. That too when I have 14 outstanding and two very good ACRs in the past years. I am the only IPS from India to be decorated with four gallantry awards. I spent the prime of my life fighting terrorism in state. It is the officials who played foul. They knew if my name would appear on the panel, I would be the DGP. So they ensured I was away. It was a well-hatched conspiracy,” he said.