(Eds: Adding reaction of MNS) Mumbai, Jan 10 (PTI) The shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government's move to downgrade the security cover of former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and his family, ex-UP governor Ram Naik and MNS president Raj Thackeray, and to withdraw the security cover of state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil, has evoked the allegations of 'political vendetta'.
As per a government notification issued on January 8, the security covers of BJP leader and former CM Narayan Rane, Chandrakant Patil and another senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar have been withdrawn. Rane had 'Y-plus' security.
While the BJP alleged political vendetta, the ruling Congress recalled how the elite SPG security of the Gandhi family was taken away by the Central government. The Raj Thackeray-led MNS has termed the security downgrade as 'mean- mindedness'.
Reacting to the development, Fadnavis, who is the Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Assembly, said he was not worried but also alleged that the government was giving security on the 'basis of politics'.
As per the notification, Fadnavis will now get 'Y-plus security with escort', instead of the 'Z-plus' cover. The security of his wife Amruta Fadnavis and daughter Divija has been downgraded from 'Y-plus with escort' to 'X' category.
Former Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik will now get 'Y' cover instead of 'Y-plus'.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray's security cover has been downgraded from 'Z' to 'Y plus with escort'.
Maharashtra BJP spokesman Keshav Upadhye alleged that the security of Fadnavis and other BJP leaders was downgraded out of 'political vendetta'.
'The decision shows what kind of a mindset the government has, and it is unfortunate. During the COVID-19 lockdown period, Fadnavis was travelling to the nook and corner of the state, while Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was sitting at home,' he claimed.
Upadhye said Fadnavis was the first to reach Bhandara where 10 babies died in fire at a hospital on Saturday.
'Even if the entire security cover is removed, he (Fadnavis) would continue to travel in the state and highlight the voice of the people,' the BJP leader said.
Fadnavis said he had not taken security when he was the state BJP president.
He said he received security for the first time after becoming the chief minister of Maharashtra (in 2014) and subsequently, on the threat perception after the hanging of (1993 Mumbai blasts convict) Yakub Memon and action against Naxalites.
'I feel security should be given on the basis of threat perception, now the government is giving security on the basis of politics. Some are getting increased protection even when there is no threat perception to them,' he said.
'I am a people's person and this doesn't impact my travel (schedules) to meet people,' Fadnavis added.
Rejecting Upadhye's charge, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said in Nagpur that the the decision to review the security cover of several leaders and prominent personalities has been taken as per the threat perception, irrespective of political affiliations.
BJP leader Narayan Rane, a former Shivsainik and fierce critic of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, said the state government would be responsible if anything happens to him.
Rane said he had been given security by the Mumbai Police because he had a threat from terrorists.
Sudhir Mungantiwar said he was given security due to a Naxal threat.
'I thank the government for withdrawing my security cover. This means the Naxal threat doesn't exist. Our aim to highlight people's voice will be more stronger,' he said.
The Congress, which is one of the constituents in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, besides the NCP, said it was the Narendra Modi government which had acted out of 'political vendetta when it withdrew SPG security to the Gandhi family'.
In a statement, Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said it was not the MVA government but the Modi regime which had acted of political vindictiveness.
'The opposition BJP is crying hoarse over downgrading of security to their leaders after review of threat perception. But the Gandhi family and former PM Manmohan Singh were under threat, still their security and staff was downgraded,' Sawant said.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Bala Nandgaonkar has dubbed the MVA government's decision to downgrade Raj Thackeray's security 'mean minded'.
'Raj Thackeray has threat to his life from anti-social elements and Pakistan,' Nandgaonkar saidin a Facebook post.
He said due to his straightforward attitude while raisingthe issues concerning the common people,Raj Thackeray has rubbed many people the wrong way.
'MNS sainiks(activists) provide protection to ordinary people. Raj Thackeray takes decisions on issues which don't get resolved at the government level or are held back due to vote bank politics,' the former MLA said.
Nandgaonkar also expressed surprise over the state government bringing some new persons under the security cover and upgrading security of some others.
'Instead, this money could have been used for (building) health infrastructure so that the death of 10 babies (in the Bhandara hospital fire) could have been avoided,' he said.
As per the notification, the government has upgraded the security of two persons, downgraded of 11, withdrawn of 16, while 13 new people have got security cover.
Prominent among the new persons to get security are Sunetra Pawar, wife of state Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, and Varun Sardesai, secretary of the Yuva Sena and nephew of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's wife Rashmi Thackeray.
Both have been given 'X' security cover. PTI MR DC CLS VT GK NSK NSK