The controversy over security for BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi during the bomb-blast episode in Patna has turned the spotlight on the issue of threat perceptions for top leaders, particularly in the election season.
Ever since Modi became the BJP’s PM candidate, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has given a stream of inputs to the Gujarat police and the states where he is holding rallies about threats to him from jehadi outfits.
“More than 100 intelligence inputs have been generated on Modi’s security. The latest went on November 1 wherein a threat to him from a combine of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Khalistani terrorists was highlighted. Before that there was another input sent to the Bihar police on the threat posed by Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives,” said an IB official.
There has always been a political sub-text to Modi’s security and it played out before his Patna rally on October 27, when the Indian Mujahideen carried bomb blasts in which six persons died.
When a Gujarat police team reached Patna four days before Modi’s rally, it immediately requested an advance security liaison (ASL) with the local police to hammer out mutually acceptable steps.
“The minutes of an ASL meeting are called ASL report and generally they are not signed but in this case, the Gujarat police didn’t want to take any chance. Therefore, after conducting the ASL, the Gujarat police requested the Bihar police officials to sign the ASL report but the local police refused,” a Union home ministry official said.
“It was a kind of situation that we want to avoid in future as any attack on Modi can lead to an extremely volatile communal situation.”
Therefore, now a pre-set security drill — comprising the IB, Gujarat police and the police of the state in which Modi is to hold a rally — has been put in place and it means implementing certain security measures, including having a bullet-proof vehicle and a jammer to secure his convoy from an IED attack.
With the war of words between the government and the BJP going on, comparisons are already being drawn with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, due to intelligence failure and lack of adequate security.
An IB unit keeps tracks of threats to VVIPs from all sources — jehadis, Maoists or international. There are now around 400 central protectees including the President, Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members and other top leaders like LK Advani, Rajnath Singh, Prakash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Praveen Togadia, and Omar Abdullah.
“The President’s security detail was asked to cut down on his road travel. Similarly, after a renewed threat from Khalistani terrorists, Sukhbir Singh Badal’s security was reviewed. After he became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav was provided with National Security Guards. His father and former UP chief minister Mulayam Singh has NSG protection,” said a security official.
One thing is now clear. Security for the political class is becoming a multi-dimensional business in which political differences will matter less and less.