The former Samajwadi Party leader, Amar Singh, is in the news again, as his security cover has been upgraded to ‘Z-plus’ for his visit to Uttar Pradesh, which incidentally is now being ruled by the son of his one-time close associate and political mentor, Mulayam Singh.

In view of intelligence reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs has cleared the proposal to provide the highest security cover, though Mr. Singh will continue to enjoy only ‘Z’ category security for the rest of India. It was during the tenure of Home Minister P. Chidambaram that the security cover of Mr. Singh, along with that of several prominent leaders, was lowered after the MHA conducted a thorough review of security being provided to VVIPs.

“We have asked the Central Industrial Security Force to upgrade the security of Amar Singh. Since he parted ways with the Samajwadi Party and its leader Mulayam Singh a few years ago, it is feared that he might be targeted. Last year’s Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh saw a bitter war of words between him and the leaders of his erstwhile party. Moreover, Mr. Singh himself had complained of receiving threats, so it was decided to give him more commando cover,” a senior MHA official said.

Interestingly, since Mr. Chidambaram left for the Finance Ministry, his successor Sushilkumar Shinde has been flooded with requests for either providing security cover or enhancing it. And with the general elections nearing, Mr. Shinde seems to be adopting a more lenient approach in granting security cover to political leaders.

For instance, a long-pending demand of Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, and moved from Samajwadi Party to Congress, to get Z-plus security, has also been cleared by the MHA, where a security ring involving more than 50 personnel, including commandos, is being provided to the “protected” leader. Notably, Mr. Chidambaram had rejected Mr. Verma’s plea twice.

Similarly, other leaders who have also been given Z-plus security cover include Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh head Mohan Bhagwat and BSP Rajya Sabha MP, Brajesh Pathak. The security cover of former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar, accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh violence, has also been upgraded. The CISF is using more than 1,300 commandos from its Special Security group to secure 37 VVIPs.

Mr. Chidambaram, who didn’t take the highest security for himself despite the fact that he led the Home Ministry in the post-Mumbai attacks period and even stepped up operations against Maoists, had removed or reduced unnecessary security cover for leaders.