Khakhi clad officers saluting, police wireless messages and cars zooming in and out with sirens and red beacons. That was what a young Vijayendra Bidari was exposed to in his early life. As the son of Shankar Bidari, who was the Bengaluru Police Commissioner, Head of the Special Task Force and Director General of Police, Bidari junior basked in the thrill and prestige of a uniformed service family. Then in 2001, his elder sister Vijayalakshmi bagged the All India first rank in the IAS. A family legacy can cut both ways. It can inspire you or mount lofty expectations on you. But a level headed Vijayendra worked hard to emerge from the shadow of his illustrious dad and brainy sister and storm into the Indian Police Service in 2005 after an Engineering Degree from RVCE, Bengaluru and internship at the IISC. “It was not the trappings of power and the environment that I was enamoured by. The scope for work, amazing opportunities for interaction with people in the civil services is almost unparalleled.”
And it was more than a legacy. Vijayendra and his sister Vijayalakshmi, now on deputation in Bengaluru as the Regional Director of the Staff Selection Commission, had a lesson in grit and determination from their highly decorated 1978 batch IPS officer dad. Shankar Bidari was not born with a silver spoon but struggled hard to reach the top echelons of government service after starting his career as a telephone operator in the Posts & Telegraph department. With a supportive wife Uma, a gynaecologist, the Bidaris gave their children the best possible education and instilled in them a sense of pride in government service.
Initially given the Rajasthan cadre, Vijayendra was posted as the Additional Superintendent of Police, Dausa, when the Gujjar agitation for reservation was at its peak. The debutant ASP handled the situation with commendable tact and dexterity. During his stint as the Superintendent of Police, Special Operations Group, Vijayendra spearheaded one of the biggest narcotics seizes in the country. In Dholpur, some of the most notorious dacoits, operating out of the Chambal river basin and its ravines, either surrendered, or were arrested or eliminated in encounters.
The Bidaris’ presence in the bureaucracy hasn’t been limited to the dad and children. Having opted for Geography in the Civil Services Examination, Bijapur born Vijayendra managed a little Chemistry just 40 kilometres across the border in Sholapur in Maharashtra! Romance further blossomed at the Foundation Course in the Lal Bhadur Shastri Academy and he married Rohini, a 2008 batch IAS officer, now posted as the Additional Collector (Development) in Madurai. Under the All India Service Rules, if a spouse works with another State cadre, a transfer is allowed. With that cadre shift from Rajasthan, our ‘Bheem Boy’ cop landed in Tamil Nadu, where he is currently the Superintendent of Police in Madurai.
Vijayendra’s Tamil Nadu postings have been just as eventful. The Metro Rail work had just about commenced when he was posted as the Deputy Commissioner of Police – Traffic, South Chennai. “Not only did we effect traffic flow modifications, introduce one-way systems around the congested Panagal Park but also brought down the number of fatal accidents by 20 per cent.” This was also when I first met him in my studio in NDTV Hindu for a prime time live discussion.
In the caste sensitive and crime prone Tirunelveli district, Vijayendra had to not only maintain law & order but also provide security to vital installations like the Koodankulam Power Plant, LPSC-ISRO – Mahendragiri and INS Kattaboman naval base and even deal with the anti nuclear plant agitation. The Chief Minister’s medal for excellence in Public Service in 2013 was a reflection of his work under trying circumstances.
At the height of the Cauvery face off, I have come across congratulatory posts on the social media thanking the SP, Madurai for “going beyond the call of duty” to provide escort convoys to vehicles crossing the Karnataka border. “While this is the least we could do for our people, it’s not something new. Even during the Mullaiperiyar issue, when I was in Tirunelveli, I used to organise an escort for vehicles going towards the Kerala border.” Vijayendra’s approach has been people centric. As he strives to keep up the good work by his predecessors Asra Garg and V. Balakrishnan, a priority is to “be accessible to petitioners. I meet about 50 to 60 people everyday. I like to be result oriented. Follow up at my end is crucial as I do not want people to have to come back to me with the same grievance.”
If it’s not his dad, Vijayendra has the option of exchanging notes on policing with his brother in law Prasanna who is the Additional Commissioner (Crime) in Mumbai.
A keen golfer, he now plays volleyball and badminton at least thrice a week. “At the National Police Academy I had bagged the silver medal in badminton.” Quite a traveller, he enjoys visiting tourist sites and temples with his IAS officer wife Rohini and their five and a half year old son Abhijay. But one trip he did not make due to the ‘call of duty’ was to King’s College, London. “I was selected for the Chevening Scholarship but election duty came first and I had to bow out of that opportunity”, he notes with no sign of regret. When service runs in the family, that may not have been a tough call to make.