After Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaiks transfer on Thursday,Home Minister R R Patil could also face the heat and an eventual ouster,Congress and Nationalist Congress Party sources said. While there is no immediate move to induct a new home minister,the NCP top brass is unhappy with Patils handling of a series of law-and-order incidents,including the serial blasts in Pune.
A reshuffle of cabinet ministers is on the cards for the NCP as it is for the Congress, an NCP minister said. Patil could lose his portfolio when that reshuffle is effected.
Patil himself chose to make light of the reports. Asked about his own promotion when he said Patnaiks transfer was in fact a promotion,Patil said there were vacancies in higher positions in the police cadre but none available for himself. There are no vacancies for a promotion for me. There are no chances of anyone quitting their posts, he said. Incidentally,Patil had resigned after the 26/11 attack,before being reinstated in 2009.
Even before the August 11 violence outside Azad Maidan,NCP president Sharad Pawar had publicly chastised Patil for his departments poor intelligence and the repeated targeting of Mumbai and Pune by terrorists. The home department should assert its authority, Pawar had told party workers at a meeting in Nariman Point on August 4. He had also said the home department would have to be held accountable for the Pune blasts and the poor intelligence.
Sources said Patil had later been asked to crack the whip on his officers. The same day,the NCP president had also questioned the delay in granting contracts for setting up a CCTV surveillance system for Mumbai,proposed after the 26/11 terror attack in 2008 and then revived after the July 13 blasts in 2011.
Though Patil surprisingly received support from Maharashtra Pradesh Congress president Manikrao Thakre last week when the latter said the home minister alone could not be held responsible,the Bharatiya Janata Party demanded his resignation just days after the incident,long before Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray made the demand at his rally.
Sources close to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan also confirmed that he believes that there was a serious error of judgment in how the Azad Maidan incident was handled,starting with the poor preparedness despite intelligence inputs and then the slow reaction by the police forces stationed on bandobast duty.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines