The Union home ministry has upgraded the security cover of a BJP poll candidate in Uttar Pradesh, the latest in a growing list of party politicians granted official protection because of a perceived life threat.
The ministry elevated the cover given to Brajesh Pathak, a former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) parliamentarian who joined the BJP last August, from the existing ‘Y’ to ‘Z’ category.
Pathak is contesting the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections from Lucknow (central) seat as a BJP candidate. With the change in category, Pathak will be now entitled to an escort vehicle with at least four security guards. As a ‘Y’ category protectee, Pathak was already being provided round-the-clock protection by more than a dozen guards from the Central Industrial Security Force, a paramilitary unit under the home ministry.
On the directions of the home ministry, more than 450 protectees get security cover, which is often seen as a mark of power and privilege among politicians.
During the tenure of the UPA government, Pathak was made a central protectee following a threat assessment by the Intelligence Bureau. He was provided security under the highest ‘Z Plus’ category wherein the protectee gets around two dozen guards with a pilot as well as an escort vehicle. At that point in time, the BSP was considered close to the ruling UPA dispensation at the centre.
But at the fag end of UPA tenure, in February 2014, Pathak’s security was downgraded to ‘Y’ category which now stands upgraded.
“Yes, we have been asked by the home ministry to upgrade security of Brajesh Pathak,” confirmed a CISF officer.
Pathak is not the only BJP leader and a party candidate in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections who has got security as a central protectee. The state -- considered a top political prize -- goes to the polls in seven phases opening February 11.
Union home ministry also provided SPS Baghel (BJP candidate from Tundla constituency) ‘Y’ category security.
Three more BJP leaders in the state – Jaiveer Singh (also party candidate from Sirsaganj constituency) , Subrat Pathak and Sushil Singh -- have been cleared by the home ministry to get CISF security under the lowest ‘X’ category. They will get round-the-clock protection from one CISF guard.
Pathak heads BJP’s youth wing, Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha, in Uttar Pradesh, while Sushil Singh is nephew of Brajesh Singh, a criminal-turned-independent member of UP legislative council. Sushil Singh is also a sitting member of UP assembly.
Sushil Singh’s father Udaynath ‘Chulbul’ Singh was also a BJP member of the legislative council.