Despite being on the Maoist hit list, chief minister Mamata Banerjee, in order to maintain her ‘commoner’ image, is not keen to accept the extra security cover which both the state and the Centre are trying to give her.
She enjoys Z-plus security, which enhanced after Union home ministry alerted its state counterpart that the CM was facing a life threat.
“We are aware that she is on the hit list of the Maoists. However, she prefers to move around as a commoner and likes to mingle with people. During her recent visit to Jangalmahal, an extra security cover was arranged for her. Here in the city, too, she likes to move around like an ordinary citizen and even stops at red lights. She prefers to live like ordinary residents,” said a close confidant of the chief minister who travels with her frequently.
The union home ministry also alerted the state government highlighting the need to heighten Mamata’s security as she is on the rebels’ hit list.
The alert was sent after senior Congress leaders were killed in a Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh in May this year. Later, in July, Naxals killed a police superintendent and five others in Pakur, Jharkhand.
Recently, when she went to Kamduni village to meet family members of a gang rape and murder victim, she had to face the wrath of the villagers.
Later in a number of rallies, the chief minister herself stated that the Opposition and the Maoists have been hatching plots to assassinate her. She also complained that she was moving around without any security in the village where the Maoists holed up.
The security cordon around the chief minister was heightened and the government pressed in a bullet proof car for her during her visit to the districts, including Maoist affected West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura.
However, Mamata, who held a number of public meetings in Jangalmahal, did not use the car which followed her convoy.
“She wants to interact with the common people and as a result she frequently breaks the cordon and greets them. Moreover, she wants to travel like a commoner. We have requested her a number of times to adhere to security protocols since her life is at risk,” said a senior home department official.
The chief minister travels without a pilot car in the city. She is just escorted by two other cars where security personnel trail her.
She also refused to have an open corridor while traveling from her home in Kalighat to Writers’ Buildings in the city.
“She still stops at red lights. She says she doesn’t want to cause any inconvenience to the public. She also often makes unscheduled stops. However, we have increased security along the route she travels,” said a senior police official.