Launching an unsparing attack against the Congress party and the Gandhis over their SPG protection rhetoric, Union Home Minister Amit Shah while speaking on the issue of the passage of the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill 2019 said that the security cover of the Gandhi family has been replaced and not revoked as insinuated by many of its leaders.
Home Minister Amit Shah on SPG Bill in Lok Sabha: An effort is being made to paint a picture that govt isn’t concerned about security of Gandhi family & that their protection has been withdrawn. Their protection has not been withdrawn but only changed, based on threat assessment. pic.twitter.com/5KCK07ySi1
— ANI (@ANI) November 27, 2019
“An effort is being made to tarnish the central government by painting a picture that the government is apathetic towards the security concerns of the Gandhi family and that their protection has been withdrawn. However, far from reducing their security, we have increased their security cover, based on the threat assessment by the security agencies,” Shah said.
Ever since the government of India had downgraded the security cover of the Gandhi family members- Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress leaders have launched an offensive against the central government, accusing it of perpetuating vendetta politics. Manish Tewari today questioned in the Lok Sabha the centre’s decision to remove the SPG cover of the Gandhis and other prominent Congress leaders such as former PM Manmohan Singh despite intelligence inputs in June suggesting threat assessment has increased.
Responding on the allegations of vendetta politics, Amit Shah contended that it is not in the ethos of the BJP to embrace a vindictive approach in the politics. The vindictive approach is the hallmark of the Congress party, he said.
Taking a swipe at the Congress leaders, Amit Shah insinuated that the protesting Congress leaders are worried about a family and not for the VIPs. Amit Shah asserted that when former PM Manmohan Singh’s SPG security cover was diluted, no one protested but after the dilution of Gandhis security cover, suddenly they have started creating a ruckus. “Why are their differing yardstick to display concern for the security of former PM MMS and the Gandhi family?” Shah questioned.
Shah held the Congress party in the dock for bringing several amendments in the SPG Bill with the stated aim of favouring the Gandhi family. Shah claimed that the amendment bill placed by the government is the first time that the security of the Prime Minister is kept in mind.
#Alert – I have no hesitation in saying on record that the changes that were made to the bill earlier were made keeping in mind a single-family. It is the first time it has been changed keeping in mind the security of PM: Home Minister Amit Shah on SPG Bill pic.twitter.com/szQFaXMIcb
— News18 (@CNNnews18) November 27, 2019
Defending the government’s stance on the SPG (Amendment) Bill 2019, Shah reasoned that his government is committed to providing security to every political party and is already providing the same. However, he added that political parties can’t be provided security equal to that of the Prime Minister of the country.
Amit Shah also listed down the number of instances when the SPG cover was flouted by the Gandhi family. He claimed that on more than 600 occasions, member of Gandhi family went on a trip without taking their SPG cover. Rahul Gandhi, according to Shah, violated SPG norms about 1892 times while travelling in India and about 247 times on his foreign tours since 2015. Essentially, Amit Shah asked the Gandhis why they were so secretive about their trips.
The SPG amendment bill was tabled in the parliament days after the government decided to withdraw the SPG security of the Gandhi family and replaced it with the ‘Z-plus’ security cover by the CRPF.