Bihar Chief minister Nitish Kumar appears to have put Gupteshwar Pandey in a perennial-wait mode.
Even as the ex-DGP has been waiting patiently for his induction in the NDA government, another former top cop has quietly taken oath as a cabinet minister in the state. Sunil Kumar, a 1987-batch IPS officer has been made the minister for excise and prohibition, barely a few months after his retirement.
Sunil, who held key positions, including SSP, Patna during his career, joined the ruling Janata Dal-United shortly after his retirement in August last year. He was subsequently fielded from Bhore (reserved) constituency from where he won by a narrow margin. On February 9, he was among the 17 ministers, including eight from JD-U, to be sworn in at Raj Bhawan during the much-awaited expansion of the Nitish ministry.
But no such luck for Pandey, who had joined JD-U with much fanfare after taking voluntary retirement from the service late last year, a few months before he was to superannuate. He was apparently hoping to get the party ticket from the Buxar constituency which, unfortunately for him, went to BJP quota under the seat-sharing agreement within NDA. He could not get the ticket from any other Vidhan Sabha constituency either.
His premature retirement had also sparked speculations that he might contest the by-election from Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat, which had fallen vacant due to the death of the sitting JD-U MP, Baidyanath Prasad Mahto. But that was not to be. Apparently disappointed, he later emphasised that he had joined politics to serve society.
Nonetheless, it was widely believed since then that he would be accommodated in the Nitish ministry sooner or later. But he did not get a berth in the latest cabinet expansion. Worse still, he has not yet been made an MLC either.
There is still a glimmer of hope, though. There are at present 12 vacancies in the state legislative council for nominated members, which are to be filled soon. His supporters are hopeful that he would be nominated to the Council soon. Also, they say, there are still five vacancies in the Nitish government.
Pandey had shot into the national limelight during the high-pitch investigation into the actor Sushant Singh Rajput death case, which had pitted the Bihar police against their Maharashtra counterpart last year. He had also courted controversies over his remark to question the “aukaat (status)” of Sushant’s girlfriend, actress Rhea Chakravorty, who was at the centre of a prolonged media trial in the case at the time.
A flamboyant officer in his time, Pandey was often hailed by his supporters as the “Robin Hood of Bihar”. Ahead of the state elections last year, his biography and a video featuring him as an inveterate do-gooder had also been released, apparently to boost his chances in the polls. But nothing seemed to impress Nitish, who chose to give the JD-U ticket to Sunil, who had preferred to keep a low profile all along, unlike his erstwhile colleague.
Incidentally, it turned out to be Pandey’s second round of big disappointment in his bid to make a foray into politics. Ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, he had taken voluntary retirement in the hope of getting the BJP ticket from the Buxar seat but the party’s top brass had chosen to field its sitting MP Lalmuni Choubey at that time. Thankfully, the Nitish government allowed him to withdraw his resignation from IPS after a few months. He was subsequently elevated to the post of the state police chief.
A berth in either of the Bihar Houses or in the Nitish cabinet, however, remains elusive. Eves as his batchmate Sunil embarks upon his new innings now, his tryst with power politics remains on hold for now.