With the present Delhi police commissioner Bhim Sain Bassi scheduled to demit office in February 2016, contenders for the coveted post have started making the rounds of political corridors to push their names for the post.
Bassi, a 1977 batch IPS officer, who has had a by-and-large non controversial tenure, will be known for his frequent rundown with Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. He was appointed the 20th Delhi police commissioner in August 2013, succeeding Neeraj Kumar, who had a tumultuous year-long tenure. Bassi had taken over the reins of Delhi police when it was under severe criticism for its perceived inability to control crime against women, especially after the 16 December 2012 gang-rape of 23-year-old Nirbhaya. Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs said that Bassi might hang his boots earlier than scheduled as he is likely to be appointed the next Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), replacing Vijai Sharma, who demits office on 1 December this year.
According to sources, the probable officers likely to succeed Bassi include 1979 batch officer Alok Verma, who is presently the director general of Tihar prison, 1984 batch Dharmendra Kumar and his batchmate Deepak Mishra, both of whom are presently posted in the rank of senior special commissioners and heading “special units”.
The special unit headed by Kumar is responsible for all major departments of Delhi police, including the Special Cell, Crime Branch,Economic Offences wing, Intelligence branch, Security wing and Traffic Police. The one headed by Mishra looks after the ranges, operations, Delhi Armed Police, vigilance, legal cell and research.
“One of these three officers had last week met a senior Union minister seeking his ‘support’ for the post (police commissioner). However, the minister did not commit anything as he had already been approached by one of the other officers to push for his claim,” a senior official with the department said.
Seniority-wise, 1979-batch officer Alok Verma is the frontrunner for the post. Apart from these three, the name of Karnal Singh, currently with the Enforcement Directorate, and special commissioner J.K. Sharma are also being discussed in the Delhi police headquarters.
Sources say that Verma has been presenting his case with the who’s who of the BJP. However, he is still to receive a concrete answer. Verma was in news recently after the BBC managed to enter the prison and make a documentary on the convicts of the 16 December gang-rape case, forcing the MHA to send summons to Verma.
If Bassi has his way, sources said, Dharmendra Kumar is likely to be given the post as both share very cordial relations that go back to the times when Bassi was the DCP of North District, while Kumar was his deputy. However, a section within the BJP is against Kumar as he is perceived too close to the previous UPA leadership. A section within the BJP still remembers the midnight crackdown on the hundreds of followers of yoga guru Baba Ramdev — during which a supporter died — that was ordered by Kumar in 2011 when he was the Special Commissioner of Police, Law and Order. The idea to crack down on the supporters, as per BJP leaders who are against Kumar, was mooted by him to the then Home Minister.
Mishra, who does not get along too well with Bassi, is said to have the political clout to get such a coveted posting. “His political affiliations are in sync with the government in power today,” a source close to him said.
With a Cabinet reshuffle expected by November that might see Home Minister Rajnath Singh get a different portfolio, much will depend on who the Home Minister is.