For the first time in the history of legislative sessions, the chief minister, deputy chief minister, home minister and legislators had to leave their cars 100 metres away from Vidhan Bhavan, and walk to the building.
This was part of the elaborate security measures undertaken following intelligence inputs that there was danger to the state legislature. The building looked like a fortress on Thursday, the first day of the state budget session.
“There are constant intelligence bureau inputs about sensitive installations,” Home Minister R.R. Patil told journalists on Thursday morning. “And as we all know the Vidhan Bhavan is one of the places on the terror hit list.”
Leader of Opposition, Eknath Khadse, backed the precautions taken. “ It is better to cooperate with the arrangements to prevent any terror attacks,” Khadse said. The issue of increased security around Vidhan Bhawan also came up in the legislative Council when Leader of Opposition, Diwakar Raote, asked Deputy Chief Minister, Chhagan Bhujbal, why cars were being checked and laptops were not being allowed inside the building. “Is it only because the governor was to address us today?” Raote asked.
Bhujbal responded saying the decision to tighten security for the entire session was taken after a meeting between the home minister and police chiefs. We have to cooperate with them and keep our egos aside and walk in for our own security,” said Bhujbal. He said that Vidhan Bhavan saw crowds in the campus and canteens and a large number of cars on certain days and the police find it uncontrollable.
Raote then questioned the government rule that every Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) was allowed to bring two people in along with him or her every day. “Many MLAs do not register the names of these people [with the security],” said Raote. “Some MLAs even have terror links. So what is the guarantee they will not sneak in terrorists?”