Congress demands restoration of SPG cover to Gandhis and Manmohan Singh
Raising the issue during Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Anand Sharma said it is the responsibility of the state to protect its leaders and their safety has to be “beyond party and political considerations.”Updated: Nov 21, 2019 01:30 IST
The Congress on Wednesday reiterated its demand that Special Protection Group cover be restored to the Gandhi family and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh claiming that the removal of this protection made them vulnerable to threats, even as senior BJP leaders said the decision was taken by the home ministry based on threat perception.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Anand Sharma said it is the responsibility of the state to protect its leaders and their safety has to be “beyond party and political considerations.” The move was supported by members of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, both allies of the Congress.
“Please rise above that, and review and restore (the SPG cover). That would be in national interest. Otherwise the intention would be questioned today, tomorrow and in the future,” Sharma said.
The government downgraded from SPG to Z-plus the security cover of United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi, daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. They will no be protected by the Central Reserve Police Force.
Sharma said the Congress-led UPA government had not disturbed the security cover of former prime ministers, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for 10 years. “I am not making a political point…All other protectees, their cover was neither diluted nor withdrawn (by the UPA government),” he said.
BJP working president JP Nadda said there was nothing political about the move to replace the political cover of the Congress leaders. “The home ministry has a set pattern and there is a protocol. This is not done by a politician. It is done by the home ministry. According to threat perception, security is given and withdrawn,” Nadda said.
Nominated MP Subramanian Swamy said the threat to the Gandhi family arose after the assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He said the threat had now disappeared due to two reasons --there was no LTTE and “the attitude of the protectees towards those whom the Supreme Court said should be hanged for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.” Swamy said Priyanka Gandhi had met the killers of Rajiv Gandhi in jail and Sonia Gandhi wrote to the President that they should not be hanged.
“It has been always been a special committee in the home ministry which decides security cover. If there is any question about it, one can go to court and challenge it,” he said.