How Amit Shah removed SPG cover of Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi with just 40 words

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Published: December 3, 2019 8:05:26 PM

Home Minister Amit Shah had rejected the Congress party's allegation of compromising the security of the Gandhi family.

SPG Amendment Bill 2019, Rajya Sabha, Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka GandhiRajya Sabha today approved the amendments to SPG Act of 1988.

SPG Amendment Bill, 2019: The bill to withdraw special security cover provided to three members of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s family has been passed by Parliament today. After a heated debate between the ruling NDA and opposition Congress members, the Rajya Sabha today passed the SPG Amendment Bill 2019. The Special Protection Group Amendment Bill 2019 has just three operational clauses that will amend the section 4 of SPG Act of 1988, effectively restricting the protection offered by the special armed police of the Union government (SPG commandos) to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members that will reside with him. The second operational clause which has just 40 words effectively strips the first political family of the country its SPG cover.

As expected, the bill was vehemently opposed by the Congress members in the Rajya Sabha who accused the government of compromising the security of the Gandhi family who lost two family members to terror attacks. While Indira Gandhi was assassinated in October 1984 while she was still in office, her son and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in May 1991 when he was campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections.

Criticising the provisions of the bill, Congress’ Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha said the bill’s provisions are loaded against Gandhi family who has a track record of sacrificing life for the country.

“In a way, you are enacting the law to keep one family out of it (SPG protection),” he said in the Rajya Sabha.

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Vivek Tankha was referring to the second and third operational clauses of the bill that limit the SPG protection to only those family members of present and past Prime Ministers who reside with the SPG protectee in the official residence.

The third operational clause that amends clause B of subsection (1A) of section 4 of the SPG Act of 1988 clearly states that SPG cover will be withdrawn from the former Prime Minister and his immediate family members five years after demitting the office.

“Any former Prime Minister and such members of his immediate family as are 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,” said the SPG Amendment Bill 2019 passed by the Lok Sabha.

No Gandhi family member has become Prime Minister of the country after Rajiv Gandhi whose term ended in 1989. This clause not only strips the SPG cover of three Gandhi family members – Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and Priyanka Gandhi, but it also restricts SPG protection only to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his predecessor Manmohan Singh has also completed more than five years after demitting the office in May 2014.

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As per a review conducted by the Intelligence Bureau, the SPG cover of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already been withdrawn and no immediate family member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s family stays with him at his official residence. The amendments approved by the Rajya Sabha today only leave Prime Minister Narendra Modi under the exclusive protection of the Special Protection Group.

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