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Shinde Sena-BJP ties again in spotlight over fresh U-turns on police transfers

Devendra Fadnavis holds the Home portfolio, the transfer orders reversed were of officers posted in area considered Eknath Shinde's stronghold

The Ekanth Shinde-Fadnavis government that came to power in June 2022 has only carried out large-scale police transfers twice, and both times, postings of officers have been stayed or changed the very next day. (File Photo)

Coalition pulls and pressures continue to tell on police postings in Maharashtra, with yet another round carried out this week seeing objections and U-turns.

The development is seen as a reversal for Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is credited with having a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the IPS officers in the state, and was known to run a tight ship when he held the CM post in 2014-2019.

The Ekanth Shinde-Fadnavis government that came to power in June 2022 has only carried out large-scale police transfers twice, and both times, postings of officers have been stayed or changed the very next day. Given that this is an exception, usually such changes are indicative of political interference.

On Tuesday, 109 officers of Superintendent of Police and Additional SP ranks were transferred in one of the largest such transfers executed in the state – an exercise already delayed as the general transfer period is around April-May.

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On Wednesday, Additional Director General of Police S K Singhal asked for nine of these officers to continue in their current postings. Late at night, five of them were given postings different from those mentioned in the transfer order a day earlier.

What further muddies the waters is that of these nine officers, six have either currently or in the past worked in the Thane Commissionerate or the nearby Vasai-Virar or Palghar District Police. Thane is believed to be the bastion of Shinde, and there was soon talk in the power corridors that the CM had forced Fadnavis’s hand, to accommodate his demands.

Sources close to Fadnavis say such interference in police postings has not gone down well with him.

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Similarly, on October 12, after 25 IPS officers were transferred, some were asked to stay on in their existing postings a day later. Then too, the reversal is believed to have come at the behest of the Shinde camp.

A government official said that Shinde, who has to keep his flock of MLAs together, safe from the perpetual threat from the Uddhav Shiv Sena, has been flexible in accommodating their demands regarding officers.

“While the BJP MLAs would not dare push for officers of their choice, the Shinde camp has been trying to get its way. In some cases, Fadnavis has rejected their suggestions but he must do the balancing act,” a government official said.

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While Shinde group spokesperson Naresh Mhaske refused to comment on the issue, another party member denied any tension the CM and Fadnavis, including on the matter of police transfers. “There are laid-down procedures for postings of IPS officers which have been followed. Some officers have genuine concerns, due to which their postings were changed. The CM has no role to play in the process,” he said.

Fadnavis’s detractors are quick to point out that in April this year, when he was the Leader of Opposition, he had attacked the then MVA government over changes after some police transfers had been announced. At the time, the MVA government had stayed orders regarding five of the 40 officers who had been transferred. Fadnavis had also pointed out that earlier, some transfer orders regarding police officers had come under CBI scanner.

Earlier, there was friction between the two alliance partners over Cabinet seats, including selection by the Shinde group of Sanjay Rathod, who had earlier been targeted by the BJP over the suicide of a girl in his constituency. Shinde faction MLAs were also upset over comments made by Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule that Fadnavis was going to be the next CM.

First published on: 11-11-2022 at 09:41 IST
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