The opposition Congress in Assam on Tuesday hit back at Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s appeal to the BJP leaders and the party functionaries to give up their personal security officer (PSO) as “this is a Congress culture”.
Slamming the Chief Minister over his “the PSO system is a Congress culture” remark, Congress’ Rajya Sabha member Ripun Bora said that many actors, singers, and celebrities who take along the PSOs are not from the Congress.
“Sarma groomed himself in the Congress party’s organisation for many, many years, built up his entire political career… then switched over to the BJP and became the CM. Now he has become allergic to the Congress culture,” Bora, also a former state Congress President, told a television channel.
The Assam cabinet in a recent meeting chaired by Sarma has formed a committee to assess the entitlement and necessity of PSOs of different political leaders.
Depending on the recommendation of the committee the PSOs would be assigned or withdrawn.
The Congress leaders — Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Bhupen Kumar Borah and party’s Rajya Sabha member Ripun Bora on Tuesday asked the Chief Minister to surrender his huge security cover and then he asked the party leaders to do so.
Borah while talking to the media said that the system of engaging PSOs was initiated after Congress leader Manabendra Sharma was shot dead by armed miscreants in Guwahati in 1991.
“If Assam police claim that the state is peaceful and no personal security is required, then the chief minister should not take huge security cover within the state. Let Sarma give up his PSOs first,” the Congress state party chief said.
All India United Democratic Front leader Aminul Islam said the matter of assigning or withdrawing PSOs is to be dealt with by the security agencies following the stipulated norms.
Sarma had on Saturday urged the BJP leaders and the party functionaries to give up their PSO, saying “this is a culture of the Congress party”.
“There is no need for PSOs. We do not have any threat to life as we have done nothing wrong,” the Chief Minister had said on Saturday while addressing a function in Guwahati on the occasion of Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 97th birth anniversary.
State Health Minister and government spokesman Keshab Mahanta said the PSO issue was recently discussed at the cabinet meeting.