Centre revises SPG rules to ensure full compliance by Gandhis

Gandhis
Congress president Sonia Gandhi seems to have handled the political situation in Maharashtra more sensibly than her son and former party chief Rahul Gandhi handled the Karnataka crisis. Photo: PTI

Issuing fresh guidelines related to the Special Protection Group (SPG) security cover provided to the Gandhis, the Centre on Monday (October 7) made it mandatory for the elite force personnel to accompany them not only within the country but also when they travel abroad.

The SPG currently guards Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Till very recently, whenever the Gandhis travelled abroad, the SPG personnel accompanying them would go along only until the first leg of their journey. Then, the Gandhis, preferring privacy, would send them back to India.

According to reports, if the new rule is unacceptable to the protectees, the government may curtail their foreign visits in view of security considerations.

The new guidelines also make it mandatory for the Gandhi family to submit all details related to their travel, The Sunday Guardian reported.

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The change in procedure comes in the backdrop of questions being raised over Rahul Gandhi’s reported trip to Cambodia.

The SPG was set up in 1985 after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and Parliament passed the SPG Act in 1988 dedicating the group to protecting the Prime Minister of India. In 1989, the VP Singh government had withdrawn the SPG protection given to the outgoing PM Rajiv Gandhi.

After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, the SPG Act was amended, offering SPG protection to all former Prime Ministers and their families for a period of at least 10 years. The rule was amended again in 2002 making provisions for an annual review. Former prime ministers such as HD Deve Gowda also lost their SPG cover after a review.

In August, the Narendra Modi government withdrew the Special Protection Group (SPG) security to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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(With input from agencies.)