The fight for the top post in Kerala police is expected to regain its vim and vigour when TP Senkumar, the incumbent DGP, demits office on June 30. In the present scenario no one can predict who is waiting in the wings to be the state’s next police chief.

Senkumar IPS was appointed as DGP in May 2015 during the regime of the Congress-led UDF government but had to make an unceremonious exit around the same time the following year when the LDF came to power. The Pinarayi Vijayan government, which was not very fond of Senkumar, took him down and posted him as the head of the Kerala police’s housing corporation instead.

The Thrissur native took legal action questioning his transfer, claiming the appointment of DGP is for a tenure of two years and that he has not completed the period. Senkumar’s arguments were not accepted by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) or the High Court. The Kerala government had submitted that his poor handling of Puttingal temple fireworks tragedy and Jisha murder case as the reason for his transfer.

Senkumar then approached the Supreme Court, which eventually ruled in his favour and ordered his reinstatement as DGP. However, the Kerala government delayed the posting and sought clarification in the apex court’s order. Senkumar then filed a contempt of court case against Kerala Chief Secretary Nalini Netto. The SC bench was furious with the Kerala government and the LDF had to reinstate him unwillingly, fearing reappraisal from the SC.

However, the second innings of Senkumar as DGP was not as easy one. The LDF government used all its weapons against him, including changing his personal staff, appointing obliging officers in key posts and a mass reshuffle and transfers of IPS officers throughout the state immediately before his reinstatement.

Tomin J Thachankary IPS, an LDF favourite, was appointed as ADGP at the police headquarters in a move, which the High Court later doubted was a move to help the government monitor Senkumar’s moves. It has to be noted that Thachankary is an officer who has faced the most probes and suspensions in the Kerala IPS cadre. Senkumar alleged that after becoming ADGP Thachankary removed 12 files of police enquiry against him from the department’s secret section. Also, certain other files were not handed over to Senkumar and his orders were discarded by his subordinates, who teamed up with Thachankary.

Thachankary is from the 1984 batch and remains LDF’s blue-eyed boy but the chances of him being appointed as the state police chief looks grim at the moment with so many allegations and probes against him.

That bring us to Loknath Behera, a 1985 batch IPS officer from Orissa, who was appointed as the DGP by the LDF government in May 2016 as a replacement to Senkumar who was shunted out to the housing corporation. Behera had worked in the CBI and NIA and was the fire and rescue services chief before being appointed as the Kerala DGP. Apart from being the top cop, he was also given the additional charges of Vigilance. But after the reinstatement of Senkumar as DGP, he was posted as Vigilance director. 

Meanwhile, Jacob Thomas, the former Vigilance director, who was asked to go on leave, joined duty earlier this week as the director of Institute of Management in Government (IMG). Though appointed as the Vigilance director by the previous UDF government, Thomas fell foul of the Congress leadership after his stance in the corruption case against UDF ministers KM Mani and K Babu and also in the Pattoor land case, in which the name of former CM Oommen Chandy, Chief Secretary EK Bharat Bhushan and other senior officers were named. Even after LDF government came to power, Thomas continued to be the Vigilance director with strong support from CM Pinarayi.

But chances of Thomas being appointed as the next DGP shrunk ever since several allegations - such as concealing details of his assets in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and irregularities committed during his tenure as ports director - were raised against him. There were times when the CM singlehandedly defended Thomas and allowed him to continue as Vigilance director but his approach in the nepotism case against LDF’s former sports minister EP Jayarajan and the lottery scandal case against another CPM leader tilted the balance against him.

The consolidation of senior IAS officers against him following  his action against finance secretary KM Abraham and industries secretary Paul Antony also proved fatal to him. An observation by the High Court was the last nail in his coffin. However, the man wouldn’t go down without a fight and also threatened that he would reveal the circumstances and reasons that led to his removal from the post of Vigilance director later.

Then there are senior officers like the ever popular supercop Rishiraj Singh IPS and A Hemachandran IPS in the mix. The appointment of DGP is the prerogative of the incumbent government. With the chances of both Thomas - the senior most eligible officer - and Rishiraj - the next in line who is yet to get in the good books of the LDF - look dull, whose name will Pinarayi pull out of his hat remains a mystery. But at this point it looks like Behera has the edge.