Bihar police chief Gupteshwar Pandey, who recently made headlines with his "aukat" taunt at Rhea Chakraborty in the Sushant Singh Rajput case, has taken voluntary retirement. Mr Pandey has reportedly decided to join politics after a go-ahead from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
"My retirement has nothing to do with the Sushant Singh Rajput case," he said today, addressing a press conference in state capital Patna.
Mr Pandey's request for voluntary retirement was forwarded on Tuesday evening and was approved by the Bihar government, which has waived a three-month mandatory cooling off period. SK Singhal will take over as the new Director General of Police.
Sources say Mr Pandey, 59, is likely to contest the Bihar election, due in weeks, as a candidate of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from Sahpur in Buxar district.
It is a significant move, given that Mr Pandey was instrumental in the Bihar government's push in the Sushant Singh Rajput investigations after his family filed a case in Patna blaming his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty. Ahead of the Bihar polls, the investigation has taken a political turn with ruling coalition partners Nitish Kumar and BJP both claiming credit for the CBI takeover of the Sushant Rajput case.
The BJP's cultural unit in the state recently launched posters, pamphlets and banners featuring actor Sushant Singh Rajput with the caption: "We won't forget and won't let anyone forget".
Nitish Kumar also referred to the case in his campaign launch.
Mr Pandey is known for his politically-loaded statements and has never concealed his ambitions. In 2009, he had requested early retirement to contest the national election from the Buxar parliamentary constituency but the state government did not accept his application. Following the intervention Nitish Kumar, he returned to service.
After the Supreme Court endorsed the CBI investigation recommended by the Bihar government, Mr Pandey, as police chief, bragged that Rhea Chakraborty "does not have the aukat (stature)" to comment on the Chief Minister. He was referring to her remarks in the top court about the Nitish Kumar government using the Sushant Rajput investigation for political capital.
"What the police did was correct, and according to legal and constitutional provisions," he told reporters.
He amended the statement after public outrage, but barely. He said what he meant was that Rhea Chakraborty, as an accused in the case, had no right to criticise the Chief Minister.
In earlier statements to the media, Mr Pandey had admitted that the case had turned political and said that it was "unfortunate" that "allegations were being leveled against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar" - comments that were seen to be unusually political for an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer.