Amid uproar and walkout by Congress, the SPG Amendment Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday after it was introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah. The opposition members raised arguments against the amendment and also accused the BJP of political vendetta against the Gandhi family over the withdrawal of the SPG cover.
The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha last week itself. The amended in the Bill says that the SPG will now protect only the Prime Minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence. The amended provisions of the Bill will also provide security to former prime ministers and their immediate family members staying with them at the residence allotted for a period of five years from the date on which they cease to hold the office.
Quashing the allegation about the Bill to amend the SPG Act was moved keeping only the Gandhi family, Shah said, “It’s not true that we’ve brought the SPG Bill by keeping only Gandhi family in mind. Security from Gandhis was withdrawn after the threat assessment analysis even before bringing this bill.”
He further said that after five years, the prime minister’s SPG cover will also be withdrawn. Security of Manmohan Singh was also withdrawn and replaced with ‘Z plus’ security cover.
However, Shah attacked the Gandhi family in a veiled manner by saying, “This is the 5th amendment in the SPG Act. This amendment is not brought in by keeping Gandhis in mind, but, one thing that I can say for sure is that the previous 4 amendments were done by keeping only one family in mind.”
“Security cannot be made a status symbol. Why demand only SPG? SPG cover is meant for only the head of the state, we cannot be giving it to everyone. We don’t oppose one family, we are against dynasty politics,” he added.
In a direct attack on left-wing party CPI(M), Shah said, “The CPI(M) cannot accuse BJP of political vendetta. Under the political vendetta by Left, 120 BJP workers were killed in Kerala.”
Around a month back on November 8, a decision to withdraw the SPG cover of the Gandhi family including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, came out. The decision was slammed by the Congress which said that the government was endangering the lives of the Gandhi family by withdrawing the SPG cover. It further said that the decision shows that the BJP leadership is blinded by personal hatred and political vendetta.