Former Bihar DGP Gupteswar Pandey, who made headlines for his ‘aukaat’ remark on actor Rhea Chakraborty, joined the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) on September 27 amid indications he would contest the Bihar assembly election 2020 beginning in October. The former top cop came into limelight for his role in Bihar Police’s investigation in the death case of Sushant Singh Rajput.
Pandey joined the party in the presence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is also the JD(U) president, less than a week after taking voluntary retirement from service. Pandey’s application for VRS was accepted by Governor Fagu Chauhan on September 21, five months before the 1987 batch IPS officer was to superannuate, and in a rare gesture, a three-month cooling-off period applicable to bureaucrats was waived in his case.
His much-anticipated induction took place a day after he met Kumar and insisted there was nothing political in their conversation. The 1987 batch IPS officer had strongly defended Kumar on the issue of institution of a CBI probe into the mysterious death of Sushant Singh Rajput, the Patna-born talented filmstar.
The voluble officer had reminded actor Rhea Chakraborty, Rajput’s girlfriend and the main accused in the abetment to suicide case being probed by the CBI, of her ‘aukaat’ (status) to question Nitish Kumar, when she suggested that there was politics behind the Bihar government’s decision to push for a CBI probe.
“Bihar ke mukhyamantri pe comment karne ki aukaat Rhea Chakraborty ki nahi hai” (Rhea Chakraborty does not have the status to comment on Bihar Chief Minister),” he had remarked.
Pandey had said that he was asked to join the party by Nitish Kumar which he accepted. “I was called by the CM himself and asked to join the party and whatever the party asks me to do, I will do. I don’t understand politics. I am a simple person who has spent his time working for the downtrodden section of society,” he said.
“I have a long, loving association with Nitish Kumar. He personally called me and offered party membership. I have a public profile and connect with people…People love me. But I don’t know anything about politics. I will do what I am asked to do,” he added.
When asked about his possibility of contesting the upcoming assembly polls, Pandey replied, This is not a decision I have to take. I shall work as a disciplined soldier of the party. Whatever role the party leadership deems fit for me, I will be happy to play. When reporters persisted with the query, Nitish Kumars close aide Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh interjected, remarking in jocular vein “he has not yet submitted his biodata. Let him evince interest (in contesting the polls). Due consideration will be given”.
Known for speaking his mind notwithstanding the constraints that came with the rules governing civil servants, Pandey was in the headlines while the governments of Maharashtra and Bihar were engaged in a tug of war over the investigation in Rajput’s death case.
The Bihar DGP had publicly denounced the Mumbai municipal authorities for quarantining IPS officer Vinay Tiwari, who had landed in the western metropolis for heading the investigation after an FIR was lodged by Rajput’s father, accusing Rhea Chakraborty and some others of abetting the actor’s suicide.
The Shiv Sena, which heads the ruling coalition in Maharashtra, had accused Pandey of acting as a political pawn of the ruling dispensation in Bihar ahead of the assembly elections. Shiv Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut on the former DGP’s VRS said, he was running a political agenda with his statements on the Mumbai case and now he is going to receive his award.
Maharashtra Home minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh had said that Pandey’s quitting the job confirmed his doubts that in Rajput’s death case he was making comments not as a DGP but as a BJP leader. Pandey has earlier brushed aside criticism from the Shiv Sena, saying “they keep saying many things, I don’t give much credence to it.”
Meanwhile, Pandey, who had famously resigned in 2009 to contest the Lok Sabha polls but returned to his job after his resignation was not accepted by the state government, got a thumbs up from the BJP. Union minister Giriraj Singh told reporters in his Lok Sabha constituency Begusarai that Pandey has always been hugely popular with the masses.
“If he contests an election, he will win hands down, no matter whether he fights from Begusarai or anywhere else in Bihar, he said.
Pandey has spent a significant part of his career in districts like Begusarai and Muzaffarpur. News agency PTI sources in the JD(U), however, say he could be fielded from an assembly segment in Buxar, which has a sizeable population of Brahmins and is also the home district of Pandey.
However, NDA sources said RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha, who is trying hard to regain entry into the BJP-led coalition, was also reportedly keen on contesting the seat which has a high concentration of Koeri voters.
The EC announced the date for the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections on Friday. The 243-member legislative assembly will be held in three phases — the first phase on October 28, the second on November 3, and the third on November 7, while the counting of votes and results declaration will be held on November 10.