In a high-risk political gamble intended to woo the minorities back to the SP camp, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has appointed a Muslim IPS officer as the state’s new DGP.
With Rizwan Ahmed becoming the police chief, UP will have two members belonging to the minority community manning the top two officer-level posts-- Javed Usmani, an old UP hand and a loyalist of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is already the state’s Chief Secretary (CS).
A 1978 batch IPS officer, Ahmed succeeds Dev Raj Nagar following the latter’s superannuation. Nagar, though, had an eminently forgettable stint as DGP with the Muzaffarnagar flare-up tainting his tenure.
Ahmed, who will have barely two months on the job before he is scheduled to retire in February, was hardly seen as a frontrunner for the prized post. Apparently, it was politics rather than competence which settled the outcome in his case.
The second reason behind the risky decision to appoint a Muslim as the DGP is to restore a sense of safety and security among the riot-hit, who have been living in the relief camps in Western UP.
Now, Ahmed will visit the riot-affected areas and convince the victims to return to their native places to save the Akhilesh Government from a perpetual embarrassment.
And Ahmed’s appointment will allow Akhilesh to convey the message that it is actually the beginning of the end of the alleged injustice perpetrated on the Muslim community, with regard to the police recruitments.
Incidentally, Mulayam has been saying that the representation of Muslims in the state police force has been abysmally low and the government is trying to increase their numbers in the force. Also, by getting a Muslim IPS officer for the top job, the SP has tried to address the community’s grievance that the state has not had a Muslim DGP since Independence.
Interestingly, by appointing two Muslim officials to the coveted posts, Akhilesh has done what none of his predecessors had dared to do.
Clearly, the move was the result of a clever strategy devised by the wily Mulayam to milk the situation arising out of Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi’s emergence as a major player on the country’s political landscape.
In fact, Modi’s rise is expected to lead to a consolidation of the Hindu vote, with the Muslims eyeing an anti-BJP platform to foil his designs.
Not only that, both the Congress and the BSP are working overtime to woo the Muslims.