While the Congress is demanding for the restoration of SPG cover to the Gandhi family but senior BJP leaders maintained that the decision was taken by the Home Ministry based on threat perception. Congress leader Anand Sharma today demanded in Rajya Sabha for the SPG cover to the Gandhi family and former prime minister Manmohan Singh by “rising above partisan politics.”
The Special Protection group (SPG) cover was revoked by the BJP led central government earlier this month to Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi, daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and former prime minister Singh and replaced it by the ‘Z-plus’ security of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
The veteran Congress leader Sharma raised the issue during the Zero Hour in the House. He said there was a clear evaluation of threat perceptions to the four leaders and withdrawal of SPG cover makes them vulnerable.
“It is the responsibility of the state to protect its leaders,” he said, while pointing out that the Congress-led UPA government had not disturbed security cover of former prime ministers, including that of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and also of other protectees.
Thee security cover was neither diluted nor withdrawn during the 10-years of UPA rule, he added.
He further said that after withdrawal of the SPG cover to Gandhis and Singh there are concerns which are well founded.
“We would urge the government that these issues of personal safety, security and lives of our leaders have to be beyond partisan political considerations. Please rise above that. Review and restore (SPG security cover). That would be in national interest, otherwise intention will be questioned today, tomorrow and in the future,” Sharma said.
Defending the government’s decision to downgrade the security cover, BJP working president J P Nadda said no politics should be seen in the move to replace their security cover.
According to him the Home Ministry has a “set pattern” and “protocol” in assessing threat perceptions to leaders.
Earlier, the Congress has criticized the move on Tuesday, terming it as a part of government’s ‘vendetta politics’ and also cited the Justice JS Verma Commission report that said former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated due to security lapse. Congress has extended its protest till November 25 on the issue of withdrawal of SPG security.