Days after all 77 newly-elected BJP MLAs of West Bengal were provided central security cover, the Union Home Ministry has extended the facility to Lok Sabha MPs Sisir Kumar Adhikari and Dibyendu Adhikari. This move is likely to sharpen the politics of confrontation in the state since the former is the father of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's arch rival Suvendu Adhikari and the latter his younger brother.
Suvendu Adhikari, her close aide-turned-bitter critic, defeated Ms Banerjee by around 1,200 votes in the recently concluded Assembly election in Nandigram constituency. However, the ruling party returned to power with a thumping majority despite the time, money, and effort invested by the BJP to oust Ms Banerjee from power.
The Adhikaris have been now provided with Y+ category security under the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). This means they will be protected by a personal security officer each and 11 armed policemen, including commandos.
While Sisir Kumar Adhikari remains a parliamentarian of Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, the 79-year-old quit the party and joined the BJP in March. Dibyendu Adhikari remains a Trinamool MP from the Tamluk constituency.
Suvendu Adhikari, who till recently was a cabinet minister in Ms Banerjee's government, joined the BJP in December 2020 and has now been elected Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly.
The Centre and the West Bengal governments have in the past few weeks locked horns over the security protocol for the BJP MLAs, with the state insisting that the central forces have no power inside the Assembly premises.
The Union Home Ministry had approved the cover after taking into cognisance a report prepared by central security agencies and the inputs of a high-level team of officers that visited the state in the aftermath of the post-poll violence there.