In shunning Centre’s security, BJP MLAs negate party narrative

The Union Home Ministry earlier this month decided to put all the 77 elected BJP MLAs under the protection of armed commandos of the CISF and the CRPF in view of “potential threats” to them

The Home Ministry decided to put all the Bengal BJP MLAs under CISF and CRPF security cover purportedly based on reports from central security agencies and inputs from a high-level team of officers dispatched by it to the state to examine the ground situation in the wake of post-poll political violence in which 17 workers of different parties died. Representative image.

About a dozen BJP legislators have shunned the central security cover, virtually negating the assessment of the law-and-order situation in the state by their party-led government at the Centre.

They were provided the cover of the central paramilitary forces as the BJP-led government at the Centre has been trying to build a strong case of alleged lawlessness in the state where elected opposition leaders cannot be protected by the state government.

Pushing the narrative further, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has been repeatedly claiming that the law-and-order situation in Bengal has been worrisome.

Related news: ‘Power trip’: All BJP MLAs in Bengal to get central security cover

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By turning down the Centre’s offer, these legislators actually picked a hole in the Centre’s observation about the state’s law-and-order situation, admitted a BJP MP, who did not wish to be named.

The BJP MLA from Siliguri Sankar Ghosh said he turned down the offer because presence of a large posse of security forces personnel would come in the way of his public outreach.

“I move around my constituency on a scooter and mingle with the people. This will not be possible if I am always surrounded by security guards,” said Ghosh, who had switched over to the BJP from the CPI (M) ahead of elections.

He defeated his former mentor and CPI (M) veteran Ashok Bhattacharya in the just-concluded assembly elections.

Another BJP MLA from Matigara-Naxalbari Anandamay Barman said in his area the BJP has a huge support base and that the “people of the area are his security.”

He had conveyed to the party that he would not require any additional security cover, Barman added.

The BJP sources said 13 MLAs have so far declined the central security cover. They refused the offer either on the ground that it will hamper their public-relation or because of their inability to accommodate lodging of security personnel and bear other related expenses, sources added.

The Union Home Ministry earlier this month decided to put all the 77 elected BJP MLAs in West Bengal under the protection of armed commandos of the CISF and the CRPF in view of “potential threats” to them.

The ministry purportedly took the decision based on reports from central security agencies and inputs from a high-level team of officers dispatched by it to the state to examine the ground situation in the wake of post-poll political violence in which 17 workers of different parties died.

Taking cognisance of the reports and inputs, the ministry has decided to provide lowest ”X” category security cover to 64 BJP MLAs while 13 others have been already enjoying central security cover. BJP legislature party leader Suvendu Adhikari has been protected under ”Z” category security from the day he joined the BJP in December last year.

The ministry’s unprecedented move not only drew criticism, but it has also been perceived as a politically-loaded decision to keep the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government under pressure despite no major incidents of post-result violence being reported after the chief minister took oath on May 5.

Even the Calcutta High Court appeared to be satisfied over the action taken by the newly-formed Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal to restore normality after post-results violence in pockets of the state.

“The steps taken by the state in bringing the situation to normalcy are appreciable,” The Telegraph on May 11 quoted acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal as saying during the hearing of petitions over the incidents of violence.

The Centre decision risked “spawning dangerous new doctrines in Centre-state relations, in security management by elected governments, in inter-personal relations and trust between state police personnel and central paramilitary personnel,” observed Julio Ribeiro, former director general of police, Gujarat and Punjab.

“Either the Centre distrusts the state government’s desire or its ability, probably the former, to protect its political opponents or it has decided to keep the pot of electoral animosity boiling in preparation for a takeover. Both propositions are dangerously adversarial, the likes of which had not come to my notice ever before,” he wrote in an article published by the Indian Express.

Related news: Chastened by election drubbing, Trinamool defectors eye ‘ghar wapsi’

Even during the peak of insurgency in north-eastern state such a blanket security cover to elected leaders from a particular party was given.

The TMC said it’s a politically motivated move devoid of any logic.

“It is a political move in violation of the federal structure of the country as well as the spirit of the Constitution,” said TMC leader and journalist Ahmed Hassan Imran.

 

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