Congress bickering with NCP brews over top cop's transfer

The Congress and the NCP have started bickering again, this time over Mumbai Police commissioner Arup Patnaik.

Maharashtra home minister R.R. Patil has sent a file to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan recommending Patnaik's transfer. But Chavan is yet to take a decision on it.

While Patil belongs to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the CM is from the Congress.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik has come under fire for failing to control the August 11 Raza Academy protest that turned violent

Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik has come under fire for failing to control the August 11 Raza Academy protest that turned violent

Patnaik has been under fire for not taking 'aggressive steps' to control protesters during the August 11 protest by the Raza Academy that turned violent. Two persons died and 60 were injured.

Though the move to shift Patnaik has come after the riots, sources said they were just an excuse.

The NCP wants its own man as the Mumbai Police chief. According to sources, the proposal to transfer Patnaik came from deputy CM Ajit Pawar, who wants his own man to head the city police.

Pawar, it is learnt, wants a former Pune police commissioner to be appointed in place of Patnaik. But, Chavan has been stonewalling attempts to shift him from Mumbai.

While Patnaik has been roundly criticised from a number of quarters for his handling of the riots, his supporters said the violence was contained immediately and didn't spread.

Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan
Home minister R.R. Patil

Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, left, and Home minister R.R. Patil, right

'Everyone questions the way the riot was handled, but it is important to note that the riot was contained immediately and it did not spread to other areas. The city was normal the next day,' said a Congress leader.

Chavan, however, is facing pressure not only from the NCP but also from a top Congress leader.

He wants Patnaik out of Mumbai and is lobbying not only with Chavan but also with the Congress leadership in Delhi.

Raids begin as Eid ends

The Congress leader, who is also an MLA, is angry with Patnaik for investigating his family's benami assets.

Patnaik's term as the top cop in Mumbai will depend upon how much Chavan can stave off the pressure.

Even if the Congress decides to shift Patnaik, sources said it will not be done immediately as that would give out the impression that he was transferred following Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray's criticism.

The MNS chief had taken a massive rally on Tuesday and called for the resignation of Patnaik and home minister R.R. Patil for not being able to tackle the Azad Maidan riots on August 11.

Interestingly, after the criticism over lack of preparation for the Azad Maidan protest, the Mumbai police were out in full force for Tuesday's rally by the MNS.

Azmi's challenge

A day after being abused by MNS chief Raj Thackeray in a public rally, who alleged that Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi was winning elections only because he has Bangladeshi people voting for him, the Samajwadi Party leader has hit back.

Azmi on Wednesday challenged Raj to show Bangla deshis were staying in his constituencies and said if Raj was able to prove his allegation then he would gift him Rs2 crore and quit politics for ever.