Mumbai: The two tools Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray handily wields against the barrage of attacks against him and his Maha Vikas Aghadi government are old-fashioned instinct and sophisticated calculation. These were once again in evidence as the state government slashed the security cover of the leader of the opposition in the assembly Devendra Fadnavis and his family, former UP governor Ram Naik, MNS president Raj Thackeray, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil, another former CM and BJP MP Narayan Rane, Union Minister Raosaheb Danve. Rane had ‘Y-plus’ security.
As per a government notification issued on January 8, Fadnavis will now get ‘Y-plus security with escort’, instead of the ‘Z-plus’ cover. Security for his wife Amruta Fadnavis and daughter Divija has been downgraded from ‘Y-plus with escort’ to ‘X’ category. Former Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik will now get ‘Y’ cover instead of ‘Y-plus’. MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s security cover has been downgraded from ‘Z’ to ‘Y plus with escort’.
The government has also reduced the security cover of Union Minister Ramdas Athawale, BJP legislator Ashish Shelar, who has been vocal against MVA government policies, former Lok Ayukta ML Tahaliyani and former minister Deepak Kesarkar.
Former CM Fadnavis’s wife Amruta Fadnavis has been a consistent critic of the MVA government. She had tweeted that Mumbai had lost its "humanity" and was "not safe to live", given the manner in which the city police were handling the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.
The government’s move evoked angry reactions from the BJP, which claimed it was “vendetta politics’’.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh strongly defended the decision saying, “A committee of five senior officers has been set up to review the security and decide, as per the threat perception,” he said.
“During the BJP rule, Sharad Pawar and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar did not have any security. Sharad Pawar has also written a letter seeking reduction in his security,” Deshmukh said.
Minutes after the government’s announcement, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who has Z-plus security, called up Deshmukh and asked him to reduce it after a review. Deshmukh said that awar wanted a home department-appointed committee to review the present status of his security and downgrade it after that.
Reacting to the government’s decision, Fadnavis said he had no complaints or worries. “I am a people’s person and this doesn’t impact my travel (schedules) to meet people,” he said.
Prominent among the new persons to get security cover included Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray’s cousin Varun Sardesai and DCM Ajit Pawar’s wife Sunetra Pawar. State Legislative Council Chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and Relief and Rehabilitation minister Vijay Wadettiwar will get ‘Y-plus with escort’, while Shiv Sena MLA Vaibhav Naik, who had defeated Narayan Rane in the 2014 Assembly polls, will get ‘X’ security cover.
The leader of the opposition in the state council Pravin Darekar, deputy speaker Narhari Zirval, labour minister Dilip Walse Patil, dairy development minister Sunil Kedar have been given 'Y' cover. Senior advocate Ujjwal Nikam’s ‘Y-plus with escort’ cover has been upgraded to ‘Z’, while film actor and Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha’s ‘Y-plus’ cover has been upgraded to ‘Y-plus with escort’.
The government, as per the notification, has upgraded the security of two persons, downgraded it for 11, withdrawn it for 16, and provided it to 13 new people.