The Union home ministry has granted security cover to Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs in West Bengal, citing potential threats to them after violence was reported in the state following the announcement of the Assembly election results, PTI reported on Monday, citing officials.
Sixty-one BJP legislators will be covered under the “X” security cover category and Central Industrial Security Force personnel will be deputed for them, the unidentified officials said, citing a Union home ministry order. The remaining 16 of the 77 BJP MLAs in the state either already have the central security cover or will be upgraded to “Y”, the next higher category. Suvendu Adhikari, the Leader of Opposition in the state, has “Z” category security cover.
However, there were conflicting reports on the number of MLAs getting the cover. The Times of India reported that all 77 lawmakers have got X security cover. India Today said that 61 legislators were granted the X security cover while 10 were given additional security before the state Assembly polls.
Officials said that the decision was taken after considering a report by central security agencies and the inputs of a high-level team sent to the state in view of the reported post-poll violence against the saffron party workers.
“We had requested the [Union] home minister [Amit Shah] to provide security to our 77 MLAs as they were not able to travel anywhere, including their constituencies to their work,” BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told the Hindustan Times. “If the violence goes down, then they can rethink [the security cover] but for now we need this”.
The BJP has alleged that 14 of its party workers were killed by Trinamool Congress activists and hundreds had to leave after their workplaces were burnt and family members attacked, according to the Hindustan Times.
An unidentified Trinamool Congress worker claimed that the BJP MLAs were being given security because otherwise “half of them” will leave the party. “The BJP feels that the MLAs are very unhappy with Suvendu Adhikari being the Leader of Opposition,” the TMC leader added.
Meanwhile, TMC leader Mahua Moitra took a dig at the BJP for providing security cover to its MLAs.
In the recently concluded Assembly elections, the BJP ranked a distant second as Mamata Banerjee-led TMC won the polls by a landslide margin. The TMC won 213 constituencies in the 294-member Assembly, while the BJP secured 77 seats.
Following the elections, reports of violence emerged from the state. The Opposition parties claimed that TMC workers were attacking their supporters and activists. The TMC, on the other hand, claimed its workers had died in the violence too.
There were multiple reports of false information being shared on social media. In one such instance, the BJP was accused of posting a video, which identified a journalist as someone who was killed in the violence. The video was, however, reportedly deleted later. Journalist Abhro Banerjee was identified in the video as “Manik Moitro” from Sitalkuchi.
In another instance, party MP Swapan Dasgupta had alleged that women were molested in Nanoor in Birbhum district. Another BJP leader Saumitra Khan also tweeted on those lines. However, Birbhum Superintendent of Police NN Tripathi said that no such incident took place. “I inform everyone that it’s fake news,” Tripathi said.