In what could trigger yet another political face-off between the ruling BJP-led government and the Congress party, the Home Ministry has sanctioned Z-category security for controversial yoga proponent Baba Ramdev, and is expected to strip several UPA leaders of their security covers.
The ministry reportedly took the decision to give central-level security to Ramdev citing a report by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) that revealed a threat to his life outside his home state from "opponents." He already enjoys Z-security from the Uttarakhand government.
The government has also sanctioned the highest level Z-plus security for Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh as he is set to campaign in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, which is set for assembly polls from 25 November.
According to IB reports, terror outfits such as Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashker-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad could target political leaders ahead of the polls to disrupt the electoral process.
The decision for the two was taken last Friday, according to The Times of India. The CRPF has been directed to look into their security, and in the coming days, Ramdev will be seen escorted by a team of at least 20 CRPF personnel. Singh, on the other hand, will be protected by a bigger team of 70 personnel.
It is, however, not clear what threats the yoga guru faces, and the government's decision for Baba Ramdev seems to have been taken in haste.
"In Ramdev's case, before a proper threat analysis could be done by the Union Home Ministry that included seeking views from all stakeholder states and security agencies, the CRPF was asked to provide him Z-category security," a government official told Hindustan Times.
Ramdev is said to enjoy BJP support thanks to his public stand for the party. The yoga guru had also campaigned for the party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections this year.
However, the government is not too keen on continuing with the security covers provided to Congress leaders during the UPA rule, and could revoke them from members such as Beni Prasad Verma, Sachin Pilot and Jitin Prasad, as per reports.
In fact, former chief ministers - Lalu Prsada Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav - and current Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav, could also lose their coterie of National Security Guards, as the government is mulling a proposal to transfer their security to paramilitary forces from the anti-terror force.
The final decision, however, will be taken after Home Minister Rajnath Singh returns to Delhi from his campaigning in Jharkhand, which is set to go for assembly polls by the end of this month.
The BJP government had been criticised a few months ago for giving high-security cover for riot-accused BJP MLA Sangeet Som, accused of inciting the Muzaffarnagar riots.