Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s refusal to accept a security detail continued on Monday when he turned down Z-category cover by the Ghaziabad Police and said, “I don’t need security, the aam aadmi (common man) needs security”. Kejriwal’s stance has been lauded by many as the beginning of the end to VIP culture, but he is not the first high-profile politician to say no to security.
Heavyweight UPA leaders such as finance minister P Chidambaram and minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh have consistently turned down requests by the Delhi Police and the Intelligence Bureau to take security. Chief minister’s Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Manik Sarkar (Tripura) and Manohar Parrikar (Goa) have said no to personal security as well.
Ramesh, who according to intelligence sources is on the Maoist hit list, has zero security. The rural minister told HT: “Kejriwal and his AAP associates feel they are morally superior but for the last eight years since I became a minister, I have had no security whatsoever, no lal batti (red beacon) and I don’t even live in a ministerial bungalow.”
Chidambaram, who has just one plain clothes security official accompanying him in his official car, did not have Z-plus cover even as home minister. His close aide told HT that Chidambaram “has been trying to dispense with the plain clothes official for the last 25 years”, adding, “when Chidambaram is out on personal work, he drives his car himself and is then not accompanied by the man in civvies. He has neither an escort nor a bullet-proof vehicle”.
Kejriwal won praise for promising to end the ‘red-beacon’ culture. “I rejected this culture in 2006,” said Ramesh, adding, “but the difference is that I have never felt the need to talk about it or wear it as a badge of honour. Even today, I walk the 3.8 km from my home to my office in Krishi Bhawan”.
Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had told media, in Delhi, last Friday that Kejriwal was being protected “without his knowledge.” What he was referring to was the fact that a security cover is provided along the route travelled by the Delhi CM. Personal guards throwing a ring around him, is what Kejriwal continues to say no to.
The Delhi Police, as per procedure, have to approach Kejriwal and get it in writing that he does not want this personal cover. Chidambaram and Ramesh have submitted the same in writing too.