Security of Indian ex-ministers may be downgraded

Yogesh Kumar

New Delhi, May 25:

The security cover of several ministers of the former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government could be downgraded after intelligence agencies review the threat perception against them. There will, however, be no change in the Z-plus highest security cover of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and former deputy prime minister L K Advani. Among the former ministers likely to lose the Z-plus security cover are George Fernandes (defence) and Murli Manohar Joshi (human resource development). Along with them, the security cover of Rajasthan Governor Madan Lal Khurana, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia and some others could also be downgraded, well informed sources said.

"The final report of the committee reviewing the threat perception will be completed by the end of this week and handed over to the home ministry. The final decision on providing or removing security cover will be taken in consultation with the prime minister," an official said. The exact security arrangements for Vajpayee and Advani have yet to be finalised. "Whether or not they will continue to be provided bullet-proof cars and jammers has yet to be decided," the official said.

There will, however, be no change in the Z-plus security of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha. Before the new Congress-led government assumed office, 374 people in the capital were provided with security cover. Of them, 13 were in the Z-plus category and 44 in the Z category, while 203 had Y security and 108 had X security. Some 10 cabinet ministers and ministers of state of the new government are likely to get Z or Z-plus security cover, officials said.

Apart from Manmohan Singh, maximum security will be provided to Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. The security cover of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and Minister of State for NRI Affairs Jagdish Tytler is to be enhanced, a Delhi Police officer said.