Guwahati, Dec 29: Opposition Congress in Assam on Tuesday hit out at Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and dared him to surrender his security cover after he ridiculed the protection by personal security officers as Congress culture'.
The state government has constituted a committee to assess PSO requirements depending on the security threat perception to individuals and leaders.
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Bhupen Kumar Borah said the system of assigning PSOs began in Congress after party leader Manabendra Sharma was shot dead in Guwahati while returning from a market in 1991.
Sharma's political rivals had allegedly orchestrated the shooting in nexus with the banned ULFA.
If Assam Police says the state is peaceful, then the chief minister should not take security cover within Assam. Let the CM surrender his PSOs at least, he said. The Chief Minister can avail security cover if he travelled outside the state, but should not when within Assam.
Sarma had on Saturday spoken out against protection by PSOs terming it a Congress culture' and claimed that there was no threat to the life of any BJP leader in the state as they have done no harm to anyone.
He had also said he has the authority to remove the PSOs, but is awaiting requests from the party's end. Leader of Opposition, Debabrata Saikia (Cong) said that the chief minister was using this tactic of terming PSOs as Congress culture' to remove the security officers allotted randomly to BJP leaders.
The Congress leader said, BJP leaders were allotted PSOs as a feel good factor as they had never tasted any power ever. Now the chief minister is in a spot as to how to withdraw these excess PSOs, he said.
AIUDF legislator Aminul Islam said the matter of assigning or withdrawing PSOs is a matter to be dealt with by the security agencies. I cannot understand why the chief minister is bothered about it, he added. State Health Minister, Keshab Mahanta said the issue of PSOs was discussed at the cabinet meeting.
The cabinet has formed a committee to assess who will get security cover of PSOs. Depending on it PSOs will be assigned or withdrawn, Mahanta said.