Even as the Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra reduced the security cover of former CM Devendra Fadnavis and his family, Union Minister Ramdas Athavale, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, as well as removed the cover for state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil and former Chief Minister Narayan Rane, it has not shied away from providing the government security cover for relatives of its leaders.
As per the new directives by the Maharashtra government, Varun Sardesai, Secretary, Yuva Sena, has been provided with ‘X’ security cover. It is pertinent to note here that Sardesai is the nephew of Uddhav Thackeray’s wife Rashmi Thackeray. The government also newly granted security cover to Shiv Sena MLA Vaibhav Naik, who defeated Rane in the assembly polls in 2014.
Besides Sardesai, the wife of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, Sunetra Pawar has also been provided with the ‘X’ security cover.
Former Maha CM Devendra Fadnavis, Raj Thackeray, Ramdas Athavale among leaders whose security has been scaled down
In a notification issued on Thursday last week, the Maharashtra state government made 16 withdrawals, 13 new protectees, 11 downgrades and two upgrades. The changes in the security cover triggered a political row, with the Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhyay accusing the Maha Vikas Aghadi government of practising “vendetta politics”.
A former Governor, two former CMs, two serving Union ministers and the Maharashtra BJP president were among those whose security cover was either withdrawn or downgraded by the Maharashtra government. Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s security cover was reduced from earlier ‘Z+’ cover to ‘Y+’ with an escort. Similarly, the government also lowered the cover extended to his wife, Amruta, and daughter, Divija, from ‘Y+’ category to ‘X’ category while withdrawing the security cover of his aunt, Shobhatai Fadnavis—a former minister and a sitting MLC.
After Maharashtra government reduced Devendra Fadnavis’ security, the former chief minister said that he had never asked for one and his movement won’t be affected by the downgrading of his security detail. Fadnavis said, “I never demanded security even as party chief, it was only as CM, when there were threats, I was given security. This won’t affect my movement at all. We are not the kind of leaders who depend on security, we work among the people.”
Among BJP leaders whose security detail has been withdrawn include—Union Minister Raosaheb Danve, state BJP president Chandrakant Patil, former Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade, former state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, former social justice minister Rajkumar Badole as well as legislators Ram Kadam and Prasad Lad.
Furthermore, the government also reduced the security cover of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s cousin and MNS chief Raj Thackeray from ‘Z’ category to ‘Y+’ with an escort. Union Minister Ramdas Athavale’s security detail was also scaled down.
State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh refutes opposition allegations
Responding to the allegations of vendetta politics against the government, State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh claimed the downgrading was as per a routine threat perception review. He added that NCP chief Sharad Pawar had called him, offering to lower his security cover. “Pawar is a national leader but he has barely used any security in the last four years. Even Ajit Pawar had no escort,” Deshmukh said.