The Shiromani Akali Dal-led government in Punjab has put the Centre in a fix over a request to upgrade the security cover for three important members of the state’s ruling “first family” — the Badals.
The problem is how to go from the highest security, which is Z-Plus, for the country’s VIPs to the next level. For, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son and deputy chief minister, Sukhbir Badal, and a key minister, Bikram Singh Majithia, are already getting Z-Plus security.
Revenue minister Majithia is the brother-in-law of Sukhbir Badal.
A central government official said the request came last week and the Union home ministry has not been able to decide what security upgrade can be granted to someone getting the highest cover already.
The elite commandos of the National Security Guard protect the 88-year-old chief minister, while the junior Badal and his brother-in-law get round-the-clock protection from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
Around 30 to 40 central security personnel guard VIPs under Z-Plus protection; and they get two escort vehicles as well.
The home ministry is likely to assure the state government the trio’s security is not lax, but is as tight as it should be under Z-Plus.
The Akali government said the Badals face threats from militants. It argued that a security upgrade is necessary in the light of an attack on an RSS leader in the state.
Retired Brigadier Jagdish Gagneja, the RSS’s deputy chief in Punjab, was shot at by two men on a motorcycle in August.Terrorists are suspected be behind the attack on Gagneja; and the state passed the investigation to the CBI.
On the political front, the Akalis are battling an anti-incumbency mood and a hard push by Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal to offer an alternative to Punjab voters who have been voting the Akali-BJP coalition partners or the Congress all along.