No compromise on security of leaders: Pranab

Last Updated: Thu, Jul 23, 2009 17:08 hrs

New Delhi: There would be no compromise on the security of political leaders, the government asserted on Thursday as reports of protection cover being downgraded created an uproar in parliament with the opposition disrupting both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

"On the security of the leaders, there will be no compromise," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also the leader of the house, said in the Lok Sabha.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal also assured members that there would be "no reduction in the security" of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, Samajwadi Party's Mulayam Singh Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal's Lalu Prasad and Bharatiya Janata Party's Murli Manohar Joshi.

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A similar assurance was also made in the upper house, Rajya Sabha, which was adjourned soon after it began the day's proceedings.

In Lok Sabha, too, angry BSP members took up the issue as soon as the house met at 11 a.m. and rushed towards Speaker Meira Kumar's podium shouting slogans against the government after reports that the Z-plus security cover being given to Mayawati may be downgraded.

The Speaker's repeated requests to them to raise the matter during zero hour would not pacify the members, forcing her to adjourn the house for half-an-hour.

Chaos ruled even after the house re-assembled.
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"The government is planning to scale down the security provided to Mayawati and Home Minister P. Chidambaram should reply soon," BSP leader Dara Singh Chauhan said.

In a move to calm the situation, Mukherjee said: "I checked up the position on the issue with the home minister and he has assured me that he has not received the report of review committee so far."

"It is a periodic exercise to review security. The review committee report has not reached him and the government will take a decision after taking (into account) the concerns of the members of the house and the persons concerned," he added.
But the BSP was not pacified and the protests continued.

The BJP also added to the din. "The name of party leader Murli Manhohar Joshi who led 'ekta yatra' against terrorism to Kashmir also figured in the list of persons whose security will be downscaled," Sushma Swaraj said.

Soon after Swaraj's brief speech, BJP MPs joined the chorus, forcing the speaker to adjourn the house till noon.

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When it reconvened, the house was adjourned for a third time, till 2 p.m., following slogan shouting. The fracas continued in the house even after this adjournment, forcing the government to make a statement on the issue.
Tempers cooled only after Mukherjee's assurance.

Home Ministry officials have had three meetings so far to examine the security cover being given to 395 VIPs in the capital. Security cover may be either whittled down or removed for some of them. The final decision has to be taken by the home minister.

The matter also figured Wednesday in the Lok Sabha when Lalu Prasad and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav voiced their protest against the government's move.

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the same reason soon after it began the day's proceedings.

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