The Maharashtra government has reduced the security cover for former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his family, BJP chief Chandrakant Patil and former Chief Minister Narayan Rane, in a move the BJP has termed as “vendetta politics”. The government said the changes in security cover were based on the “prevailing threat perception”.
The state government issued a notification on Thursday (January 7) reducing the security cover for another BJP leader from Maharashtra and former Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and cancelled the protection for senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar.
Security cover has also been scaled down for Union Minister Ramdas Athawale and MNS chief Raj Thackeray.
The government announced greater or new security cover for Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha, Sunetra Pawar, the wife of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, and Varun Sardesai, the secretary of the Yuva Sena and nephew of Chief Minister Thackeray’s wife Rashmi Thackeray.
Fadnavis and his family will now get ‘X’ level of security instead of ‘Y+ with escort’. Athawale will have ‘wireless’ instead of ‘Y+ with escort’. Raj Thackeray’s ‘Z’ cover has been removed. He will instead get ‘Y+ with escort’, while Ram Naik will now get ‘Y’ cover instead of ‘Y+’.
Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha’s cover has been upgraded from ‘Y+’ to ‘Y+ with escort’ and senior advocate Ujjwal Nikam’s ‘Y+ with escort’ will now be ‘Z’ security cover.
The 16 withdrawals, 13 new protectees, 11 downgrades and two enhancements of security cover has led to a political row. Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhyay said the changes reek of “vendetta politics”.
“The decision shows what kind of a mindset this government has… and it is unfortunate. During the Covid lockdown, Fadnavis was going to every nook and corner of the state, while Chief Minister Thackeray was sitting at home,” he told PTI.
“I am a people’s person… It doesn’t impact my travel plans to meet people,” Fadnavis said in response to his security cover being scaled down.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said there is no politics in the decision and that the security cover depends on “threat perception”. “A committee of five senior officers was set up to review the security and take a decision as per the threat perception,” he said. Deshmukh added that even NCP chief Sharad Pawar had asked for his security to be scaled back.
(With inputs from agencies)