Congress demands restoration of SPG cover to senior party leaders; no politics behind it, says Centre

The SPG cover given to the Gandhi family and Manmohan Singh was withdrawn earlier this month and they were given 'Z Plus' security provided by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). 

Congress demands restoration of SPG cover to senior party leaders; no politics behind it, says Centre
CRPF personnel stand guard at the residence of Sonia Gandhi (Image Courtesy:IANS)

Protesting against the Central Government's move to withdraw the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover of the Gandhi family and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Congress on Wednesday raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha and urged the government to restore special protection.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said that the "government should look into the issues of safety of politicians beyond the partisan political considerations" and restore the cover.

"We urge government that issues of security of our leaders have to be beyond partisan political considerations," he said.

He also added that when the UPA was in power, they never removed SPG cover for any former PM, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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"I remember, sir, when UPA was in office, considering this aspect, no security cover of the former Prime Ministers including that of, I am not making a political point, Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji for 10 years was disturbed. All other protectees... their cover was neither diluted nor withdrawn," Sharma said.

In his response to the Congress leader, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national working president JP Nadda said that there was no political motive behind taking the decision. 

"There is nothing political, security hasn't been withdrawn. Home Ministry has a very set pattern and there is a protocol. It is not done by a politician, it is done by the Home Ministry and according to threat perception, the security is given and withdrawn," Nadda said.

The SPG cover given to the Gandhis and Singh was withdrawn earlier this month and they were given 'Z Plus' security provided by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The Gandhi family had got the SPG cover since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991.

The Congress has been repeatedly raising the issue of downgrading security cover of its top four leaders. It has raised the issue in the Lok Sabha too, demanding review of the government decision. The party created ruckus in Lok Sabha against the government's decision while the Youth Congress on Wednesday called for a march to Parliament.