In Chennai, the police chief temporarily assumes the role of chief minister.

CHENNAI: Inspector S Venkatesh Kumar, a 1999-batch officer, was on cloud nine as he became chief minister M K Staling for close to four hours on Saturday, taking salutes from officers and members of other uniformed forces while parading in a decorated open jeep. The Independence Day dress rehearsal was close to the real show this time, as the inspector was made to wear’veshti’ and shirt in spotless white, just like the chief minister. He told TOI that being the VIP dummy for the CM during rehearsals “was a special and unexplainable feeling,” and that he had “thoroughly enjoyed the event.” For almost ten years, Venkatesh Kumar served in the commando force before being transferred to the core CID unit within the security branch wing. On August 6, he was called in for rehearsal. Venkatesh Kumar was unaware of the plot when he was advised to dress in traditional garb by the head of the venue’s security, SP of the security section D Saminathan. Four guys in suits and dark glasses accompanied him as he left the Secretariat room. An officer from the core cell wing eventually brought him to the dais, where the parade drills were taking place. Venkatesh Kumar had no idea he was going to play the role of the fake CM till that moment. From August 11-13, traffic on Kamarajar Salai will be rerouted due to Independence Day rehearsals. This was confirmed by a police officer who had previously headed the security branch that monitors movements of VVIPs: “The VVIP movement is usually kept under wraps to avoid untoward incidents. The identity of the dummy is not revealed.” From 6 a.m. until the completion of rehearsals, motorists using Kamarajar Salai, Rajaji Salai, or Anna Salai will need to detour through a longer route.

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