The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday after the Congress staged a walkout from the Upper House. While members of the Opposition raised arguments against the amendment accusing the BJP of “political vendetta” against the Gandhi family over the withdrawal of their SPG cover, Shah responded to them by saying that the amendment had “nothing to do” with the Gandhis.
Launching an unsparing attack against the Congress party and the Gandhis over their SPG protection rhetoric, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said: “It’s not true that we’ve brought the SPG Bill by keeping only Gandhi family in mind. Security from Gandhis was withdrawn after the threat assessment analysis even before bringing this bill. After five years, the prime minister’s SPG security will also be withdrawn. Now Manmohan Singh’s security was also withdrawn and replaced it with ‘Z plus’ security cover.”
Reminding the opposition that the bill has been amended several times in the past to benefit 1 family, Shah said the ‘security cannot be status symbol’.
“This is the 5th amendment in the SPG Act. This amendment is not brought in by keeping Gandhis in mind, but, one thing that I can say for sure is that the previous 4 amendments were done by keeping only one family in mind,” Home Minister Amit Shah says in the Rajya Sabha.
Home Minister Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha on SPG Bill: This is the 5th amendment in the SPG Act. This amendment is not brought in by keeping Gandhis in mind, but, one thing that I can say for sure is that the previous 4 amendments were done by keeping only one family in mind. pic.twitter.com/BCRNZmbea2
— ANI (@ANI) December 3, 2019
In a democracy, the law is the same for everyone and not special for a family, said Home Minister Amit Shah in his response to arguments regarding the SPG Bill moved in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. “Former PM’s SPG cover was also withdrawn. Narasimha Rao, Chandrashekhar, IK Gujral and Manmohan Singh are among former PMs whose SPG security cover has been withdrawn, said the HM.
While addressing concerns and accusations regarding the SPG cover being taken away from the Gandhi family the HM said: “Any citizen of India could also be facing more threats than the Prime Minister of India. Are we to give everyone SPG protection? The SPG cover is only for the prime minister.”
Alarmed by Congress’ recent obsession with SPG security cover, the Home Minister said in the Rajya Sabha today: “Why just the Gandhis? Everyone in the country should be protected. I don’t understand the stubbornness behind wanting SPG cover.”
#NewsAlert – “Why just the Gandhis? Everyone in the country should be protected. I don’t understand the stubbornness behind wanting SPG cover,” says Union Minister Amit Shah in his reply to the Rajya Sabha.#SPGDebate pic.twitter.com/XwFUumD7fg
— News18 (@CNNnews18) December 3, 2019
The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 proposes to provide security to the Prime Minister and the members of his immediate family, who are residing with him at the official residence.
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.
Giving a befitting reply to Congress, over the major hue and cry over the withdrawal of SPG cover from the party’s top leadership alleging that the Centre had left its president Sonia Gandhi and senior leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra vulnerable to security threats, Amit Shah had reiterated the same in the lower house on November 27, when Lok Sabha too had passed the bill.
“After the assessment, former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar’s SPG security cover was removed and no Congress member said anything. Then former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s SPG security cover was removed and no Congress member said anything. Then former Prime Minister IK Gujral’s SPG security cover was also removed and even Manmohan Singh’s security cover was changed. Are they worried about the country or one family?” Shah had asked.
The home minister also said that SPG officers are sent back to their parent organisation like CRPF, police and other forces after five years, and these forces are full of SPG trained officers. He added that the Special Protection Group is formed by CRPF, ITBP, SSF, police and other such forces, and these three protectees (Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka) are being protected by people who’ve been part of the SPG even today.
Defending the government’s stance on the Special Protection Group (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.