A total of 79 BJP leaders, including the turncoats and the new joinees, have been provided with VIP security by the central government ahead of the West Bengal assembly elections, which are due in a week.
While BJP leaders Jitender Tewari, Hirenmay Chattopadhyay, Yash Dasgupta and Sravanti Chatterjee have been given Y security of the CISF, actor-turned-politician Payal Sarkar has been assigned X security.
Recently, the Centre accorded ‘Y+’ VIP security cover to veteran actor Mithun Chakraborty who recently joined the BJP. Officials said the security cover will be provided by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) that has a dedicated wing for this task, called the special security group (SSG).
The 70-year-old actor had joined the BJP on Sunday at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mega rally at the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata. “Chakraborty has been given a ‘Y+’ cover and armed CISF commandos will accompany him during poll campaign in West Bengal,” a senior officer said.
Earlier, those provided with the VIP security cover include CPM MLA from Tamluk Ashok Dinda, TMC MLA from Kanthi Uttar seat Bansari Maity, Congress MLA from Purulia Sudeep Mukherjee, Gazole TMC MLA Dipali Biswas, TMC MLA from Bally (Howrah) and daughter of former cricket administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya – Baishali Dalmiya, TMC MLA from Monteswar Saikat Panja, CPM MLA from Haldia Tapasi Mondal, TMC MLA from Kalna Biswajit Kundu and TMC MLA from Barrackpore assembly seat Shilabhadra Dutta.
Biswas had won the Gajole seat in 2016 on a CPM ticket but joined the TMC in 2018. She, however, is stated to have not resigned as a CPIM MLA.
All these MLAs have recently quit either the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) party, the CPI (M) or the Congress and most of them have joined the BJP.
BJP Lok Sabha MPs Kunar Hembram (Jhargram), Subhas Sarkar (Bankura) and Jagannath Sarkar (Ranaghat) and party leader and state committee member Krishnendu Mukherjee have also been provided the central security cover, sources said.
There were specific threats analysed against the MPs and Mukherjee and hence protection under the central VIP cover were extended to them, sources said.
Under the lowest ‘X’ category central cover, two-three armed commandos accompany the protectee during travel while the ‘Y’ protection has a provision to include four-five security personnel, as per requirement.
The ‘Z’ and ‘Z+’ are the higher categories of the central VIP security cover. Similar protection is also provided by various state governments through their police units.
Election to the 294-member West Bengal assembly will be held in eight phases between March 27 and April 29. A threat perception report prepared by central security agencies recently recommended to the home ministry for a security cover to the national award-winning actor. BJP MP from Jharkhand Nishikant Dubey will also be accorded with a similar cover that involves about 4-5 armed commandos protecting the person.