The growing demand for rightsizing the “VVIP” security seems to have had little impact as list of central protectees gets longer.
Political considerations rather than threat perception appear to be the deciding factor. In the last few months, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leaders Satish Chandra Mishra, Dhananjay Singh, Brajesh Pathak and Ram Bir Upadhyay have been added to the list. Mayawati’s BSP gives outside support to the UPA government.
After the 26/11 attacks, then home minister P Chidambaram scaled down the security covers of many and trimmed the list of protectees as fierce debate raged over VVIP security. “But after his departure, the home ministry has again become generous with such requests,” said a source.
The Delhi gangrape again pitted a “bloated: security cover for the VIPs against protecting the man on the street but all the talk has amounted to nothing.
Mishra and Pathak, both Rajya Sabha MPs, have been given the highest protection -- Z+. At least 10 personnel guard a Z+ protectee -– there are 40 of them -- round-the-clock at home, office and during travel. Two personal security officers and two escort vehicles — with four personnel each — also come with the Z+ tag.
Dhanajay Singh, who has a criminal record, enjoys Z category protection surrounded by 16 guards all the time. It is believed that he faces threat from rival mafia leaders in UP.
A former UP minister, Upadhyay, who is an MLA now, is a notch below, with Y category cover.
“Most of these additions have been on the basis of political reasons rather than on actual threat perception,” said a home ministry official on condition of anonymity.
Union minister Beni Prasad Verma was not provided escort vehicles by the UP government when he visited his home state. So his security was upgraded to Z+, said a source.
Mishra said the new state government withdrew the cover he was given eight years ago. “After that the Centre provided me the security,” he told HT.
Chidambaram had withdrawn the cover provided by the elite National Security Guard to Buta Singh, Kalyan Singh and Maninderjit Singh Bitta, a source said.
UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is the latest NSG protectee and Punjab’s deputy CM Sukhbir Badal is next on the list. The Centre provides security to 400 individuals and the tab is picked by taxpayers.