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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

‘They aren’t normal protectees’: Congress protests withdrawal of Gandhis’ SPG cover

Raising the issue in Lok Sabha, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the family faces threat to life and their SPG security should not have been withdrawn.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2019 01:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sonia Gandhi and her two children will now be provided Z-plus security by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Sonia Gandhi and her two children will now be provided Z-plus security by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). (PTI file photo)
         

The Congress targeted the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for withdrawal of the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover for party president Sonia Gandhi and her two children— Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

The SPG is an elite force that protects prime ministers and their immediate families.

Raising the issue in Lok Sabha, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the family faces threat to life and their SPG security should not have been withdrawn.

Watch: Fireworks in Lok Sabha over removal of Gandhi family’s SPG cover 

“Sonia Gandhi ji & Rahul Gandhi ji are not normal protectees. Vajpayee ji [former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee] had allowed Special Protection Group (SPG) protection for the Gandhi family. From 1991-2019, NDA came to power twice but their SPG cover was never removed,” Chowdhury was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, said Chowdhury cannot raise the issue in Zero Hour as he had not given notice in this regard. Chowdhury had raised the issue on Monday too.

Congress members were heard shouting slogans such as ‘please stop revenge politics’, ‘end dictatorship’ and ‘we want justice’, PTI reported.

Sonia Gandhi and her two children will now be provided Z-plus security by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now the only person currently protected by SPG.

A senior home ministry official, who didn’t wish to be named, had said that the decision on the SPG shield was taken after a security review.

Former PM Manmohan Singh’s security was also recently changed from SPG to Z+ after a review. Singh is now protected by the CRPF.

The government’s move to lift off the SPG security led to sharp reactions from the Congress, which accused the government of personal vendetta. Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said the decision was “shocking and vindictive”. Congress workers had also protested outside home minister Amit Shah’s residence after the government move.

The SPG was initially formed to provide security to prime ministers and then former PMs. The rules were later amended to provide SPG cover to the families of former PMs.

Former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s family was provided security by the force in October 1991, months after he was assassinated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).