The members of the coalition government in Maharashtra, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), are engaged in a standoff over the transfer of City Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik, who is facing strong criticism for the Azad Maidan riots of August 11.
According to sources, the Home Ministry led by R R Patil of the NCP has moved a file to transfer Patnaik. However, as per the law governing transfers of IAS and IPS deployed in the state, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has to authorise the transfer.
Sources said that Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar is keen on shifting Patnaik from Mumbai. Ajit was peeved at Patnaik’s instructions to not ‘lathicharge’ or detain the rioters.
In August 2011, three persons had died and several others were injured when the police opened fire on farmers from Maval protesting on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The orders for stern police action had come from Ajit. Compared to the police action at Maval, the police ‘inaction’ at Azad Maidan was in stark contrast and the criticism attracted by the police eventually shifted to the NCP, which is holding the state’s home portfolio.
However, Prithviraj is in no hurry to shift Patnaik mid-way through his tenure as it would send a signal that the government buckled under the pressure of the Opposition, which has been seeking the resignation of Patnaik along with Home Minister Patil.