As BJP slams the Maha Vikas Aghadi government for reducing security cover to several Opposition leaders, sources report that NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday asked Home Minister Anil Deshmukh to reduce his security as well. Pawar's claimed that if there was no need, his security could be reduced, to Deshmukh over a phone call. But the government has refused his request, maintaining that the security reduction decision has been taken based on threat perception.
The Thackeray government reduced security to 13 people including Fadnavis, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, BJP’s state unit chief Chandrakant Patil, BJP leader Ram Naik, Union MInister Ramdas Athawale and Shiv Sena leader Deepak Kesarkar - with a government order dated 8 January. Moreover, the government has upped the security of Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, Congress leader Shatrughna Sinha, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s wife Sunetra and Yuva Sena secretary Varun Sardesai - to name a few. Refuting politics as the reason, the government has stated that the decision was done 'based on the threat perception to the leaders'.
Reacting to the decision to reduce security cover of several BJP leaders, BJP MLA Ram Kadam said that the Maharashtra government is daring to remove the security cover of BJP leaders with a sense of 'revenge'. He further said, "if anything wrong happens, MVA government will be responsible", adding, "the end of this 'Damanraj' of yours has now come to a close. Satyameva Jayate".
Meanwhile, ex-CM Devendra Fadnavis called the reduction in cover 'politically motivated'. He said that while he had used the security only after getting threats as the CM, now he was the one living amongst people. The Thackeray government has also removed the bulletproof vehicle allotted to Fadnavis, along with reducing the security cover.
In a similar move, the Centre had scaled down the security cover to the Gandhis passing the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The new SPG Bill states that only the Prime Minister of the country and the family that resides with him immediately will be given SPG security. The 2019 Bill also states that a former Prime Minister will be provided SPG cover only for a period of five years after he or she leaves the office - stripping SPG security to the late PM Rajiv Gandhi family - Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka. This means that only Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be under SPG cover currently.