Times when politics caught the fancy of Mumbai and Maharashtra’s policemen
While police officer Sachin Vaze’s political career did not take off, one of the reasons why he returned to the police job after taking retirement, there were many police personnel who took the political plunge while in service or after retirement. A few of them succeeded, but most did not make it big.
Former chief minister the late Sushilkumar Shinde and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Satya Pal Singh are among the very few who succeeded in creating their niche.
Shinde, who was also the union home minister, started his career as a constable, was promoted to the post of sub-inspector and later became a successful politician. Similarly, former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh managed to bag the union ministership in his very first attempt after being elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014.
Arup Patnaik, former Mumbai police commissioner, lost the recent 2019 Lok Sabha elections to a political newcomer from the Bhubaneshwar constituency.
“I have faced a lot of ups and downs as a policeman and take this defeat as one such setback in my political career,” said Patnaik who contested on a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ticket.
A fellow police officer of Vaze and another “encounter specialist” Pradip Sharma joined the Shiv Sena ahead of the 2019 elections and contested from Nalla Sopara constituency on a Sena ticket. He however lost the election.
Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Shamsher Singh Pathan, who formed his own party Avami Vikas Party (AVP), blamed citizens for his political failure.
“I wonder why the people who loved me so much during my career as policeman did not support me politically,” said Pathan who formed his outfit on May 1, 2012, a day after his retirement. “The failure is not mine, but of citizens who did not support a genuine and upright person like me.” The AVP has not been able to win a single seat despite contesting all elections since its formation.
Former additional director general (ADG) of police Prem Krishan Jain who was appointed the vice-president of Ramdas Athawale-led Republican Party of India (RPI-A) is no longer associated with politics. “I had joined the RPI to serve the poor, but then I resigned as I was selected as the member of the State Police Complaints Authority,” said Jain.
Elaborating on the link between the police and politicians in the backdrop of the Vaze controversy,
Patnaik said police tend to curry favours with an eye on post-retirement assignments. “In case of joining politics, the policemen tend to start compromising with favoured political parties. Even politicians tend to exploit the situation to the hilt,” said Patnaik.
Political experts called it a dangerous phenomenon, which has an impact on the law and order.
“These policemen go out of their way to serve their political masters. They dilute cases against guilty party workers, which encourages them to take the law in their own hands,” said political commentator Hemant Desai.
Desai said one of the factors which encourage cops to enter politics is their association with politicos in their career.
V V Lakshminarayana, who served as the additional director general of police, planning and coordination, said, “Given their wide experience, the police personnel should join politics and work towards reforming it.”
Lakshminarayana had helmed the investigation in the infamous Satyam scam. He had joined the Jana Sena party floated by South Indian film star Pawan Kalyan and had contested the Lok Sabha polls from Vishakapatnam on the plank of zero budget politics, where he spent within the prescribed limit.