Rajya Sabha passes Bill to amend SPG Act amid Congress’s walkout

SPG
Shah said it was Narendra Modi who will be impacted by this amendment as SPG cover will be withdrawn after five years of his ceasing to be the prime minister | PTI File

The Special Protection Group (SPG) will provide security only to the prime minister and his immediate family residing at his official residence, according to a Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday (December 3). The bill amends an earlier SPG Act that governs the functioning of the elite forces.

The passage of the bill comes amid strong objection from the Congress which alleged political vendetta behind the move and staged a walkout. Rejecting such charges, Home Minister Amit Shah said the government was concerned about the security of all 130 crore Indians, and not just the Gandhi family.

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Replying to a debate on the SPG (Amendment) Bill, Shah said the BJP does not carry out any action with a vindictive approach and it was the Congress that took many such decisions in the past. He said no discussion happened when security cover reviews with respect to former prime ministers including PV Narasimha Rao, IK Gujral, Chandra Shekhar, HD Deve Gowda and recently Manmohan Singh were undertaken.

“Security cover must not be treated as a status symbol by individuals. The SPG security cover is meant specifically for the prime minister and must not be enjoyed by any other individual,” he said. The Congress, which criticised the amendment, walked out of Rajya Sabha saying it is dissatisfied with the home minister’s reply on the amendment to the SPG Act.

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The government, Shah said, takes the decision of providing security cover on scientific threat analysis for a particular individual.

The passage of the amendments to the SPG Act will pave the way for only the prime minister and his “immediate family residing with him at his official residence”, as well as any former prime minister and members of his immediate family “residing with him at the residence allotted to him for a period of five years, from the date he ceases to hold the office of Prime Minister” to be given SPG cover.

Shah said if anyone it was Narendra Modi who will be impacted by this amendment as cover will be withdrawn after five years of his ceasing to be the prime minister.

Z-plus security for Gandhis

On the security breach at the residence of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, he said the security was informed that her brother Rahul Gandhi would be visiting her in a black Tata Safari SUV, but instead some Congress workers from Meerut came in a similar vehicle and so were allowed in the house.

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He said a high-level inquiry has been ordered into the security breach and three personnel have been suspended. He said three members of Gandhi family have been given Z-plus top-grade security cover with ambulance and are guarded by personnel who were part of SPG previously.

Replying to the Left’s charge of BJP acting with political vendetta, he said 120 workers of BJP and RSS have been killed in Kerala.

Reason behind Indira’s killing: GVL

Meanwhile, BJP MP GVL Narasimha Rao stoked a controversy saying there was “a reason” behind the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, during the discussion on the SPG Bill. “Indira Gandhi died in a very shocking circumstances…She was killed by extremists and there was a reason for it,” the lawmaker said.

Opposition MPs, including Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Jairam Ramesh, took an exception to his remark with Ramesh seeking a clarification from Home Minister Shah, who requested the deputy chairman of the House to expunge the remark from the records.