Gupteshwar Pandey, former DGP of Bihar, has been in the news lately, for opting for voluntary retirement to join politics. With over 30 years of unblemished career in the police force, Pandey came into limelight after he alleged foul play by the Maharashtra government in the investigation of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case.
Meanwhile in Bihar, he has always been a newsmaker for his out of the box way of functioning. People have written books and made music albums in which they equate him with Bollywood character Chulbul Pandey and the popular English folklore character Robin Hood.
Gupteshwar Pandey, in an interview with Outlook’s Jeevan Prakash, says that he comes from a farmer’s family in Buxar and his only mission in life is to serve the people of his state. Excerpts from the interview:
(Q) There are speculations that you have taken voluntary retirement only to join politics. Is it so?
A: Yes, I have taken voluntary retirement but as far as joining politics is concerned, I have not taken a final call on this. I will discuss with my friends, family members and close relatives before taking any final decision. Having said that, I will admit that politics does attract me as it can give me an opportunity to serve people.
(Q) Then what is the reason for opting for early retirement?
A: Unfounded allegations and controversies made me helpless and left me with no option but to choose retirement. I have taken retirement to protect my honour and reputation which I have earned over years of service.
(Q) Can you please elaborate a little bit on those compelling circumstances?
A: Everyone knows what happened in Sushant Singh Rajput murder case. Rajput’s father lodged an FIR as per the law. I sent my investigation team to Mumbai to investigate the case and that was completely under the purview of the law. But then what happened? A senior IPS officer was woken up at midnight only to put a stamp of home quarantine on his wrist. He was asked to stay indoors. He was humiliated. Is this the way state police functions? I personally tried to speak to DGP Maharashtra. I sent him messages but he ignored it all. He didn’t even respond. My chief secretary tried to get in touch with his counterpart, but they remained unresponsive. It was obvious that they were trying to brush things under the carpet. I had no option but to come out and talk to the media. Whatever we did was vindicated by the Supreme Court. The SC said that quarantining the IPS officer was wrong.
(Q) So is Sushant Singh’s controversy the main reason for your voluntary retirement?
A: No, but I could see the writing on the wall and realised that things would have been much more difficult for me had I continued as DGP of Bihar. My rivals have indulged in mud-slinging and my honour was at stake. There was a vicious campaign in the media to malign my image. You know elections are around the corner in Bihar and I knew for sure that mischievous elements would file frivolous petitions against me alleging that I would act unfairly during the forthcoming election. Consequent to that, the Election Commission of India might take a decision to replace me during election time. This would have been the biggest setback of my career. Keeping all this in mind, I thought it better to opt for voluntary retirement and protect my dignity.
(Q) But isn’t politics a wrong choice when you want to stay away from controversies?
A: Look, my aim is to serve the society. If criminals, anti-social elements and history-sheeters can join politics, what’s wrong if people like me decide to enter into politics? I want to serve my people and politics is a tool for that. Earlier, I was doing the same in the capacity of a police officer, now I want to do so as a politician. But as I told you I have not taken a final call on this, I’ll take my time to decide.
(Q) Any particular party in mind? Speculations are rife that you will join BJP?
A: After I announced my retirement, everyone is trying to get in touch with me. I am a free man now and will do as I think right.
(Q) You took a similar step in 2009. First, you took voluntary retirement to join politics but joined the services again. Why?
A: Yes, it is true that I had taken voluntary retirement and decided to contest elections in 2009 but I had never spoken to any political party then. No party can say that I had approached them. I didn’t give any political speech or statement. I wanted to contest independently but then my well-wishers advised me against it. So, since it didn’t look feasible, I decided to get back into the police force. What’s wrong in that?
(Q) People also say that you do a lot of things only to grab eyeballs and constantly be a newsmaker.
A: People who say so have a problem with my honesty and integrity.They indulge in all sort of mud-slinging. Let them do that. I don’t want to divert my focus on irrelevant issues and people.
(Q) But why did you figure in a Bhojpuri song as Chulbul Pandey? Isn’t it a publicity stunt to project yourself as Bihar’s Chulbul Pandey or Robin Hood?
A: No, I am not Bihar’s Chulbul Pandey or Robin Hood. I have never asked anyone to project me like that. Let me correct you here. There is a budding singer who wanted to surprise me by making a music album on me. I didn’t have any knowledge of that. He used my pictures in a song and put it on YouTube. I never asked him to do that. In fact, when I came to know I asked him to remove it. My fans and well-wishers are doing albums and writing books on me. They are doing all that by themselves. While some of them are doing it in a respectable manner because they respect my work and integrity, there are people who are maligning me as well.
(Q) It is said that you are Nitish Kumar’s blue-eyed boy. Why is it so?
A: If the Chief Minister likes me, it is because of my work. We successfully implemented the liquor ban in the state without any untoward incident. It was the CM’s dream to make Bihar a liquor-free state and we did that. Tell me one instance of communal disharmony in Bihar during the protests on CAA and NRC. While Delhi and Uttar Pradesh witnessed communal clashes, Bihar Police didn’t allow a single such incident to happen. My team and I, worked day and night to ensure that. The credit goes to each and every police officer in Bihar for that.
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