Mumbai: Under fire from the opposition over the Azad Maidan violence, the Maharashtra government finally decided to shunt out Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik, replacing him with Satyapal Singh.
While Arup Patnaik was ostensibly promoted to DG state security council, the government called it a routine administrative move. However, sources said it was an under fire Home Minister RR Patil, hoping to deflect criticism, who recommended the removal of Patnaik on August 16.
Patil, defending his stand, in fact called it a promotion for Patnaik. He said, "We have in fact promoted and given his an equally important post."
The move came less than 48 hours after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Raj Thackeray's massive rally in the city calling for Patnaik and RR Patil to step down for failing to maintain law and order.
Patil, who was under attack from his own party chief Sharad Pawar post the Pune serial blasts, may well have chosen to make Patnaik the fall guy.
Patnaik, who once enjoyed the confidence of the Maharashtra Home Minister and fell from grace only after the opposition cranked up the heat, has defended himself.
He said, "If I wouldn't have asked the police to hold fire, there would have been a repeat of the 1992-93 situation."
Patnaik's successor though indicated he would have handled matters differently.
By shunting out the man who led the force, the Home Minister may have managed to stave off pressure, but the opposition is unlikely to let minister him off the hook.