Amit Shah says "SPG Bill not being amended with Gandhi family in mind" amid row over pulling top security cover
New Delhi: Home Minister Amit Shah said in parliament today, the security breach at Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's home last week was an "unlikely coincidence" of Congress workers arriving in the same car, at the same time Rahul Gandhi was expected. A high-level inquiry had nevertheless been ordered and three personnel had been suspended after the incident, he said in Rajya Sabha, replying to a debate on changes to the SPG (Special Protection Group) law that have led to the Gandhis' security being downgraded.
Amit Shah said, On November 25, Rahul Gandhi was supposed to visit Priyanka Gandhi's home but at the same time, a black Tata Safari drove in, which had Congress worker Sharda Tyagi and three others in it instead of Rahul Gandhi.
The Home Minister said, "So the car got in without checks. Despite the bizarre coincidence, we ordered an inquiry and suspended three personnel. We did not want even a .001 per cent chance."
Mr Shah said changes to the SPG law were not meant to target one family. He said, "We are not opposing the parivaar (family), but parivaar-vaad (nepotism). India's democracy cannot run like this. Why talk of only the security of the Gandhi family? The security of 130 crore Indians including the Gandhi family is the government's responsibility."
The Bill was passed in the Upper House of Parliament after the Congress walked out following protests.
The amendment to the SPG Act also states that the period of protection for former Prime Ministers, and their immediate family, will now be capped at five years; earlier it could be extended based on review. The changes to the SPG Act, introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah, come only days after the centre withdrew special protection to Gandhi family members.
The amendment reads, "(Protection will be given to) 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."
It also states that when proximate security is withdrawn from a former Prime Minister, it stands withdrawn for members of his immediate family as well.
Effectively, this means the 3,500-strong SPG will now protect Prime Minister Narendra Modi only, to the exclusion of all other political leaders.