Security Cover For Devendra Fadnavis, Others Reduced. BJP Says "Vendetta"

Home Minister Anil Deshmukh rejected the BJP's charge - that the changes are "vendetta politics" and said security cover had been reviewed per threat perceptions

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said reduced security won't affect his travel (File)

Highlights

  • Maharashtra reduces security cover for Devendra Fadnavis, others
  • Changes in security cover based on "prevailing threat perception": State
  • BJP accuses the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi of "vendetta politics"
Mumbai:

The Maharashtra government has reduced security cover for former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his family, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, as well as withdrawing cover for state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil and former Chief Minister Narayan Rane.

In a notification issued Thursday, the government also scaled back security for former Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and cancelled protection for senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar. The government said changes in security cover were based on "prevailing threat perception".

The government also announced increased (or new) cover for a few, including Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha, Sunetra Pawar (Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's wife) and Varun Sardesai, the Secretary of the Yuva Sena and nephew of Chief Minister Thackeray's wife Rashmi Thackeray.

The changes - 16 withdrawals, 13 new protectees, 11 downgrades and two upgrades - triggered a political row, with Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhyay accusing the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi 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," Mr Upadhyay was quoted by news agency PTI.

Mr Fadnavis, a frequent critic of Chief Minister Thackeray and the MVA since being elected out of office in October (after a bitter falling out between the BJP and long-time ally the Shiv Sena), said: "I am a people's person... doesn't impact my travel to meet people."

Home Minister Anil Deshmukh rejected the charge and said security was per threat perceptions.

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"A committee of five senior officers was set up to review the security and take a decision as per the threat perception," he said, adding that even NCP chief Sharad Pawar (who is part of the ruling alliance) had called asking for his security to be downgraded.

"Everything depends on 'threat perception'... there is no politics in the decision taken," he stressed.

Among the major changes are Mr Fadnavis, his wife Amruta and their daughter Divija, who have gone from "Y+ with escort" to "X", while Mr Athawale has gone from "Y+ with escort" to "wireless". Raj Thackeray's escort has been reduced from "Z" to "Y+ with escort" and Ram Naik will now get "Y" cover instead of "Y+".

On the other side, 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 "Z" security cover.

With input from PTI