Does Mamata's security cover move for Prashant Kishor expose law, order failure?

Kishor is likely to 'penetrate' deep into BJP strongholds where TMC has lost ground

Mamata prashant kishor A collage, from left, showing West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Salil Bera) and Prashant Kishor (Reuters)

One of the biggest surprises in West Bengal politics in the first half of 2020 has come from a decision on security by the Mamata Banerjee government. It has decided to accord 'Z' category security to ace poll strategist Prashant Kishor.

The decision perhaps exposes the myth that West Bengal is safe for political activities. Kishor’s clients have been many: Narendra Modi in his 2014 campaign to be prime minister, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and, most recently, Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi. But in none of these cases did Kishor require the best possible security cover at the state level.

Kishor is not a member of the Trinamool Congress, yet. He had been recently expelled from the JD(U) by Nitish Kumar. It’s not known whether Kishor would join the TMC, but he has a long list of political clients in the coming years. However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is his prominent client in 2021. In 2021, West Bengal would go to polls, along with Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Kishor has tied up with the Trinamool Congress and he would be sure to give other states a miss.

His organisation, I-PAC, is going on a massive recruitment drive for West Bengal to engage enough manpower before 2021. Amid these developments, the state security board of West Bengal has decided to give Kishor the state-level Z security cover. The strategist would have 15 to 20 specially trained policemen along with officers of the special branch from the directorate of security.

It is not known how the board—which consists of Banerjee (chairperson) and has as members the state security director, director general of police, commissioner of Kolkata Police and home secretary—came to such a conclusion. The procedure like in the Central Intelligence Bureau would be that the state IB or special branch would have to submit a report to the state government. Sources said the IB—state or Centre—has not given any such report.

Kishor has received the state-level Z security cover, which is different from the Central-level 'Z plus' or 'Z' security cover. The Central 'Z' category cover has been accorded to only few people in West Bengal such as Mamata Banerjee and former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, both of whom enjoy Z plus category cover, and BJP West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh, who has Z category cover. Banerjee has chosen RPF officials as her main security guards, which is followed by the state police. The governor of West Bengal, Jagdeep Dhankhar, has also been given Central Z category security cover along with state police.

Sources said Kishor has been given official cover by the state security board, so that he could 'penetrate' deep into the BJP strongholds in West Bengal where TMC has lost ground considerably. These areas are the western parts of the state and northern Bengal. The TMC lost 90 per cent seats in this two regions in the last Lok Sabha election and is finding it difficult to regain control in these areas. Kishor has also decided to change many candidates of the TMC as well; as a result, dissidents could spell trouble for him. Thus he has been accorded tight security cover.

The BJP mocked at the decision to extend security to Kishor, saying such a measure strengthened their long-standing complaint.

“It shows how even TMC is not confident about security of their own people. Can you imagine what it would be for opposition candidates and leaders? What about people who are going to vote? Bengal is the most dangerous place in the country politically,” said state vice president of BJP Biswapriya Roy Chowdhury.