Practioners of astrology normally believe in not reading their horoscopes and thus claim to know nothing about their own future. Their Sun signs are invariably read by fellow good-sayers and destiny decided by others. So when the sudden announcement of the new CBI director was made in Delhi on a Saturday (2nd February), Rishi Kumar Shukla, the 1983-batch IPS officer, was among those taken by surprise. Not that he did not deserve this post; fact was that he had been, just a few days ago, removed by Chief Minister Kamal Nath from the top post of DGP in Madhya Pradesh and dumped in the Police Housing Corporation, Bhopal.
Besides being a fine police officer of top integrity, Shukla is also a knowledgeable astrologer of equal excellence. The Modi administration had considered many names over the last few weeks to replace an ‘uncomfortable director’ Alok Verma but neither the PM, nor Mallikarjun Kharge nor the CJI had heard of Shukla probably. At the most, Modi may have met him during his many visits to the central Indian state, as also in the DGs conference. Shukla has been a no-nonsense officer but with a human face. Though the column pertaining to anti-corruption experience against his name was found vacant during the high level discussions of the selection panel, those who know Shukla vouch that his two-year stint in the Economic Offences Wing in MP was quite eventful. He not only probed charges of impropriety against one of his former bosses Swaraj Puri, the then DGP of the state, he also crossed swords with mighty IAS officer SR Mohanty, now the Chief Secretary. But those who have followed his 35-year-long career could tell you a number of stories about Shukla’s ability to investigate scams as also his administrative acumen and toughness. How long it takes the part-time astrologer and full-time cop to clean up the mess at CBI headquarters remains to be seen. The country is, of course, watching the ‘parrot in the golden cage’.