Union finance minister and Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee is on top of the list, West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee a somewhat distant second, and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee a poor third.
This is how those planning VIP security during election campaigns in West Bengal rank the state’s three most prominent politicians on the basis of how comfortable they are in managing them.
On Friday, top policemen such as Special Protection Group inspector general Ramphal Pawar and Intelligence Bureau (IB) special director Yashvardhan Azad conducted a session on this in Kolkata. Senior officials such as director general of police Naparajit Mukherjee, Kolkata police commissioner Ranjit Pachnanda, ADG (IB) Banibrata Basu, and ADG (law and order) Surajit Kar Purokayastha were present.
While none made an official comment, a section of the officers agreed that arranging security for the Trinamool chief gave them nightmares mainly because of her disregard for security protocol.
A month ago, the Union home ministry sent her a letter, asking Banerjee to comply with security norms – something especially important given the extensive tours she undertakes during election campaigns.
Also, Banerjee does not like allowing state police to be part of her security ring, but so far has raised no objection to the presence of the Railway Protection Force and National Security Guard.
Officers say Mukherjee is a security man’s delight because he seldom displays emotion and is not prone to mixing with crowds. Moreover, if he wants to appear at public rallies, his office informs the security personnel well in advance.
Bhattacharjee too usually follows security norms, but is sometimes given to jumping the ring. Police officers recall one such instance during a campaign in Birbhum before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls when Bhattacharjee walked into a crowd that had breached the security barricade.