The West Bengal Assembly elections may be over but the state continues to be roiled by politics of confrontation between the Central and state administrations. The matter now agitating the key rival parties, the Trinamool and the BJP, is the central security provided to the 77 new BJP legislators.
While the Centre has approved centra security cover for the opposition MLAs in view of the potential threat to life they face, the state government has barred the central personnel's entry into the Assembly premises.
The security cover was provided based on a report submitted by a three-member fact-finding team that visited West Bengal recently to review the situation following the post-poll violence in which 21 people were reportedly killed and property of BJP workers allegedly looted.
Seventy-four of the MLAs will now be protected by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and three by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
"Sixty-one have got X-category, four Y-category, and nine Y-plus category security from CISF. While the three under CRPF cover are getting Z-category," said another senior Union Home Ministry official.
Under X-category, a VIP is guarded by two personnel; in Y-category, by 8; under Y-plus by 11, and in Z by 22 security personnel.
The cost of security, around Rs 1.5 crore per month, will be borne by the Union Home Ministry.
The Centre, however, has alleged that the security parameters are being disturbed in the state with Mamata Banerjee's government not allowing Central security personnel inside the assembly building.
"There is a drill. After following that, central security has been provided to these MLAs. But due to an order issued by the Speaker in West Bengal, these security personnel are not allowed to accompany their protectees till the building," said a senior official who is on the security review committee.
Trinamool MLAs, with state police protection, can be escorted inside.
Bengal police officials, however, claim the order was passed after media personnel were assaulted by BJP leader Suvendhu Adhikari's security personnel inside the assembly premises. Mr Adhikari has Z category security.
Officials of CRPF, the force in charge of Mr Adhikari, however, defend the action they are forced to take.
"If someone comes within close proximity range of our VIP, then it's a laid down SOP that police personnel have to protect him. On May 6, there was a lot of pushing and shoving. The CRPF only protected its VIP," explained a senior official.
Security is not a state subject but, in West Bengal, it's being used to settle political scores, the official said.