Nagpur, Maharashtra: On July 2, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh transferred 10 IPS officers of the Deputy Commissioner of Police rank, the first such reshuffle in the force since Singh took over as commissioner in February this year. It was also the first round of IPS transfers since the Uddhav Thackeray government came to power in Maharashtra.
However, just three days later, state home minister and senior NCP leader Anil Deshmukh announced that the transfer orders were revoked, triggering speculations that one of the Maha Vikas Aghadi constituents—Congress, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party—wasn’t happy with the move.
People familiar with the matter say it was Thackeray who stepped in to soothe Shiv Sena feathers that had been ruffled after what it felt was NCP overreach in its stronghold Mumbai.
This isn’t the first time in the short tenure of the Maharashtra government that there have been such speculations, especially around decisions related to the home ministry.
Earlier this year, chief minister Thackeray cleared the transfer of Bhima Koregaon case to the National Investigation Agency even as NCP chief Sharad Pawar was publicly accusing some senior IPS officers of mishandling the case and demanding an SIT inquiry into it.
However, since then, there has been relative peace within the coalition, apart from a few small disagreements related to restrictions over the coronavirus pandemic (Maharashtra remains the state with the highest tally of Covid-19 cases).
In the latest instance, the BJP was quick to take a shot at the Thackeray government.
“Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh’s explanation to stay transfer of 10 DCPs demands further clarification. Whether Mumbai Police Commissioner alone, without consulting Home Minister/DG/CMO, had issued Transfer Order? Is Thackeray Sarkar Run by Officials Only?” senior BJP leader Kirit Somayya tweeted.
Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis also tweeted that there seems to be a “lack of confidence” in this government.
“There is a Police Establishment Board which decides on transfers. But there is not only lack of coordination but lack of confidence (in MVA government) as well,” Fadnavis’s tweeted from his office’s tweeter handle.
Home minister Deshmukh, however, tried to put up a brave face and claimed that all was well in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
“The chief minister’s office and my office have revoked the internal IPS transfers carried out by Mumbai police commissioner. There is absolutely no discord in our three-party government. In fact, there is excellent coordination,” Deshmukh told reporters in Mumbai.
A Shiv Sena leader, however, conceded that the transfers and their rollback did give a wrong impression.
“The chief minister took this (rollback) action when some Shiv Sena MLAs in Mumbai complained to him about it. Also, Mumbai is considered Sena stronghold, and Udhhav could not have allowed the NCP to make decisions for it. Frankly speaking, the commissioner has the right to reshuffle IPS officers within his jurisdiction but you can’t do much when the ruling party isn’t happy with it. But don’t read too much into the reports of rifts within Maha Vikas Aghadi. Such instances will keep happening. It’s a three-party government after all,” the Shiv Sena insider added.