Seven months ago, he started his own YouTube channel and got professionals to manage his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Then, he took on the Opposition for questioning the Bihar government’s handling of a triple murder case in Gopalganj. Last month, he became the face of the state’s pursuit of the Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case.
On Sunday, it all fell into place.
Within just five days of taking voluntary retirement, his three-month notice period waived off, former Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey joined the ruling JD(U) in the presence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The next step? “I will follow the instructions of the party,” he said. But JD(U) sources confirmed that the 59-year-old 1987-batch IPS officer is in the running for a party ticket from Buxar or Shahpur for the state polls starting October 28 — or the Lok Sabha bypoll in Valmiki Nagar, which is expected to be held during the same period.
Bending the bar
By waiving off his three-month notice period, the Bihar government has bent over backwards to facilitate former DGP Gupteshwar Pandey's entry to politics. It's not the first time, though. Pandey took VRS in 2009, too, to contest the Lok Sabha polls before changing his mind -- he was allowed to return as IGP.
Not a surprise, say political observers, given the number of times Pandey had stood up for the ruling dispensation, and the number of times the government has offered him its support.
📌Pandey had taken VRS once earlier, too, after making his political ambitions from Buxar clear before the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. But when BJP’s Lalmuni Choubey refused to vacate his seat, Pandey was allowed to rejoin as IGP on the then Nitish government’s recommendation to the Centre. “My decision to contest at that time was out of the false impression that I was very popular. I had not approached the BJP for a ticket, and people advised against contesting as an Independent,” Pandey told The Indian Express.
📌In the Rajput case, Pandey was vocal in defending the government on TV channels and social media. He also took on Maharashtra Police for having quarantined Bihar IPS officer Vinay Tiwari in Mumbai. And when Chakaborty questioned Nitish Kumar for the Patna FIR, Pandey told reporters: “Rhea Chakraborty ki aukat nahin hai mukhyamantri se sawal karne ki (Rhea Chakraborty does not have the status to question the CM)”. Asked about that comment, Pandey said: “Sushant was the pride of Bihar. I stood by his aged father and the FIR was filed as per CrPc provisions, and the Supreme Court also upheld it. As for my remarks on Rhea, I promptly apologised to her.”
📌In May, Pandey stoutly defended the state government, which was under attack from RJD’s Tejashwi Prasad for its “inept handling” of the Gopalganj triple murder of a party activist’s parents and brother. The Opposition had questioned the government after JD(U) MLA Amrendra Pandey was named as a conspirator. But Pandey visited the spot and said “no one can be arrested on charges of conspiracy without proper investigation”. The DGP also launched a veiled attack on Tejashwi, the Leader of Opposition, by saying “people in Constitutional posts should crosscheck facts” before making allegations.
📌The alacrity with which the state government accepted Pandey’s VRS request and waived off his notice period illustrates their equation. Home Department Additional Chief Secretary Amir Subhani said the government “has the discretionary power” to waive the notice period. Pandey said: “I had only cited personal reasons to request a waiver. It was CM Nitish Kumar who waived it.”
Asked if there should be a cooling-off period for government officials after retirement, Pandey said: “It should be there if a person takes up a government or Constitutional post soon after retirement. It would seem as if the government is returning a favour. But it cannot hold for one going to the public and taking to politics. I have always been with the public.”
It’s obvious, though, that Pandey’s political entry has been in the works for a while. His social media accounts have been showcasing his “career highlights”: how 42 dreaded criminals were killed in encounters with police during his tenure as Begusarai SP; how he tackled the Maoist problem as Jehanabad SP; and, how he had curbed and prevented communal clashes with his model of community policing.
In fact, a day after Pandey took VRS, a music video depicting him as “Robin Hood” went viral in the state.
Today, the former top cop prefers silence to only one question: will he contest from Buxar or Shahpur? “Why only two Assembly segments? People from over a dozen constituencies in West Champaran, Begusarai and Sitamarhi want me to contest from there,” he said.
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