Meetings on security for Vajpayee, Advani

Yogesh Kumar

New Delhi, May 15:

Central intelligence agencies have been holding a series of meetings on the security cover for outgoing Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his deputy, LK Advani, once they leave office.

These meetings are also considering the security arrangements at the new residence Vajpayee would be moving into, sources said. Vajpayee is believed to have indicated the new house he wants to move into — No 8 Krishna Menon Marg. No alternative accommodation has been identified for Advani, given that the threat perception against him is higher.

The two leaders are provided the highest ‘Z+’ category of security and while this would continue, its mechanics would have to be reworked since they no longer would hold office, the sources pointed out.

A final decision on both aspects would only be taken after the new home minister assumes office and he and his officials examine the issue in minute detail, the sources added.

"The final decision on the security cover to be provided to both leaders will be taken in consultation with the home ministry and officials of central intelligence agencies, who provide the threat assessment," a senior official said. The Special Protection Group (SPG) that is responsible for the security of the prime minister and former prime ministers — as also Gandhi and her family — would also have to re-jig its operations somewhat. While the number of personnel and vehicles deployed for the security of Vajpayee and Advani may be reduced without lowering the level of protection, these will be added to that of the new prime minister. Gandhi’s security level, whether she becomes prime minister or not, would remain at its ‘Z+’ level as she is one of the most guarded persons in the country following the 1991 assassination of her husband, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The SPG also guards former president KR Narayanan, as also former prime ministers PV Narasimha Rao, Chandra Shekhar, VP Singh and Inder Kumar Gujral. It also provides security to former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, who is settled in Bangalore, during his visits to Delhi.