Andhra Pradesh

Jagan gets Andhra Intel chief from Telangana IPS cadre

Right through his 3600 km padyatra and the election campaign thereafter, YS Jaganmohan Reddy promised to bring back `Rajanna Rajyam’, a reference to his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s years as chief minister between 2004 and 2009. But as he prepares to take over as CM of Andhra Pradesh, it looks like he plans to usher in Rajanna Rajyam with the same officers who worked with his dad. 

That explains the shift of Stephen Ravindra from Telangana to Andhra cadre. Ravindra had worked with YSR as his chief security officer and is known to be close to the YSR family. The 1999 batch IPS officer will take over as the Intelligence chief once his papers are formally cleared by the Centre in a couple of weeks. 

Though belonging to the Telangana cadre now, Ravindra has worked in Anantapur district in 2006-08 in united Andhra Pradesh, where he played a part in controlling factional violence that the Rayalaseema region is notorious for. Ravindra who has encountered Maoist activity during his stint in Warangal and later as a commandor in Greyhounds, has a reputation of being a daredevil officer within the cadre.

Stephen Ravindra arriving to meet Andhra CM-designate Jaganmohan Reddy

But beyond the personal angle to Ravindra’s move and his professional competence, the transfer has several implications at a political, bureaucratic and strategic level. 

Ravindra headed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was probing into the data theft case in the run-up to the elections. It was alleged that a company named IT Grids had illegally processed sensitive data including personal information of Andhra citizens without their consent and that this data was used by the company for an app developed by it for Telugu Desam cadre. The then TDP govt in retaliation appointed a parallel SIT to probe into allegations that YSR Congress and some Telangana police officers had hatched a plot to steal party data. 

Also Read : Exclusive : Who stalled the probe into the Jagan attack?

It is suspected that all was not hunky dory with this technical operation and that the TDP leaders and its technical team will have a lot of explaining to do if the case is taken to its logical conclusion. D Ashok, CEO of IT Grids has been absconding since March when the alleged data theft came to light. Ravindra’s presence in the top echelons of the Andhra police establishment will make the TDP uncomfortable. The political messaging may well be intentional on Jagan’s part.

But at a bureaucratic level, there is a visible sense of discomfort within the Andhra IPS cadre with this appointment. Those senior to Ravindra in rank and experience interpret Jagan’s decision as a vote of no-confidence and lack of trust in the present lot of Andhra officers. This does not augur well for the force that is already facing a crisis of credibility and was heavily politicised during the five years of TDP rule. From their point of view, Ravindra is technically an outsider to the present Andhra cadre after bifurcation of the state and has made a lateral entry of sorts thanks to his political connections. 

Under the Naidu regime, every officer was marked pro-TDP or anti-TDP and the fear is that the new political establishment is continuing the trend of looking at officers with jaundiced eyes.

In the run-up to the elections, the YSRCP had lobbied heavily for the removal of both DGP RP Thakur and Intelligence chief AB Venkateswara Rao. While Rao was shunted out, Thakur stayed on. Thakur is now likely to request for a Central posting with reports that batchmate Gautam Sawang will step into his shoes. Another 1986 batch officer, VSK Kaumadi also met CM-designate Jaganmohan Reddy when he was in Delhi.

Jaganmohan Reddy with DGP RP Thakur

Strategically, there is a sense of disquiet over the access Ravindra will have to highly sensitive information available with the Andhra police. The new Intel chief will be able to find out what interception Andhra police undertook in the last three months. Of specific interest would be the political intel that was gathered. Officers wonder if it is a wise decision given that he may go back to Telangana after his period of deputation is over, thereby giving Telangana police an intimate peek into the working of the Andhra cops. 

Politically, the TDP will claim it was all along right about Telangana remote controlling Andhra should K Chandrasekhar Rao’s friend Jagan comes to power. It is likely to interpret Ravindra’s appointment as KCR calling the shots and pursuing a hidden agenda. Though with the kind of crushing defeat the TDP has faced last week, it will take some time before it can start putting the new regime on the mat. 

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