Amid stinging criticism over the state losing out mega-projects to Gujarat, the ruling government of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has slashed the protection accorded to at least 25 Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders.
They include prominent MVA personalities like several ex-ministers, MPs, MLAs of Nationalist Congress Party, Congress and Shiv Sena (UBT), and follow an “assessment of their security perceptions”, even as leaders of the three parties raised howls of protests.
However, the protection given to NCP President Sharad Pawar, Sena (UBT) President Uddhav Thackeray, NCP MP Supriya Sule, NCP MLA Dr. Jitendra Awhad and certain others has not been touched.
Those whose security has been removed include three ex-home ministers – State NCP President Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal and Anil Deshmukh, currently in jail.
Others who forfeited their security are former NCP ministers like Nawab Malik, presently in jail, Dhananjay Munde, Narhari Zirwal and Eknath Khadse, Congress state President Nana Patole, Vijay Wadettiwar, Balasaheb Thorat, Satej Patil and Sunil Kedar, besides Sena (UBT)’s Bhaskar Jadhav, Anil Parab, Varun Sardesai and MP Sanjay Raut, currently in jail, and MP Kalaben M. Delkar from the Union Territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
In contrast, a trusted aide of Thackeray and MLC Milind Narvekar has been given a ‘Y-Plus-Escort’ cover, on par with the NCP’s Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar and ex-home minister Dilip Walse-Patil, while two ex-CMs of Congress Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan have been provided ‘Y Security’ cover.
NCP’s Chief Spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said the cut or removal of security is only intended to suppress the voice of the Opposition on the continuous failures of the Shinde-Fadnavis regime.
Congress’ Waddetiwar rued how his cover has been taken away though he lives in the treacherous Maoist-infested areas of eastern Maharashtra while Sena (UBT)’s Sardesai slammed the government move to drop his security cover terming it as political vendetta by the Shinde-Fadnavis regime.