Shedding khaki for khadi seems to be the preferred option for many police officers, serving and retired, as the poll season kicks in.

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh was one of the high-profile cops who quit the Indian Police Service to take to politics. “I wanted to serve the people and politics gives me that option. Once I made up my mind, I immediately tendered my resignation,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu.

He is confident of delivering a win for the BJP in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, over Union Minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal stalwart Ajit Singh. The ex-top cop feels the anti-incumbency factor and discontent among Muslims and Jats over the Muzaffarnagar riots will go in his favour.

For political ambitions

Suresh Khopade, a retired IPS officer, has also decided to pursue his political ambitions. From being the architect of community policing in Maharashtra, Mr. Khopade now aspires to introduce an alternative administrative system in India. The former cop’s mohalla committee model was picked up by the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi. The party has pitted him in Baramati against Supriya Sule, daughter of Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar. Mr. Khopade claims that this time the NCP will lose in its bastion.

Son of a Baramati farmer, Mr. Khopade says the locals are livid as the incumbent government has let them down and look to him for change.

“I am the son of a farmer who knows the drought situation very well. The farmers feel cheated. The Pawar family has wronged them. Drought conditions are grim here and the Pawar family has not done anything to better the conditions of poor farmers.” Mr. Khopade says it is the “system” that compelled him to make the switch to politics.

Conscious choice

“Though I have a meritorious service record, a departmental inquiry was instituted against me because I was outspoken. While serving as a police officer I realised the flaws in the system. As an officer one can only enforce the law, but to make changes in the system, one has to be a part of the legislature.”

Maharashtra cadre IPS officer Prem Kishan Jain quit service a fortnight before his retirement to try his luck at politics.

Mr. Jain, who joined the Republican Party of India, says he is not going to contest the Lok Sabha polls, but he might contest the Assembly elections later this year.

“I don’t shy away from saying that the incumbent State Home Minister is inefficient. Maharashtra saw an unprecedented delay in IPS transfers and promotions. As the secretary of the IPS association, time and again I wrote to the Home Ministry on the issue, but there was no reply.”

Cooling-off period

Many former IPS officers feel there should be a cooling-off period before entering the election fray.

“There is nothing wrong in policemen contesting elections. This is a democratic country, but there should be a cooling-off period. Otherwise, the people will perceive the force to be politically motivated,” says Julio Ribeiro, former Mumbai Police Commissioner and Director-General of Punjab Police.