LS passes SPG Bill amid walkout by Congress, others

LS passes SPG Bill amid walkout by Congress, others

Agency News

New Delhi, Nov 27: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday gave its nod to the much talked Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill 2019 with Home Minister Amit Shah making it clear that the BJP-led dispensation has 'no vindictive approach' on matters concerning security of VVIPs.

"An impression has been generated that the government is not concerned about security of Gandhi family and that their protection has been withdrawn. This is not true, their protection has not been withdrawn but only changed and the responsibility given to CRPF," Mr Shah said replying to the debate wherein Congress members Manish Tewari and Gaurav Gogoi slammed the government decision.

The debate on the Bill has its own significance as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government earlier this month withdrew the SPG cover from the Gandhi family members.

The Congress members and some from other parties such as DMK staged walkout while the Bill was being considered for passage.

Gaurav Gogoi, Congress member from Assam, said the argument that the Bill is being brought due to resource crunch is 'laughable'.

He said the new draft law is "political vendetta camouflaged as a legislation". "We oppose this Bill, you should withdraw it," he said.

Earlier, initiating the debate his party colleague Manish Tewari also said while in June this year, the SPG had informed Congress President Sonia Gandhi and others that they have a high threat perception, their cover was withdrawn. He sought to know the reasons for the decision to take away the SPG cover.

He pointed out that withdrawal of SPG cover earlier in 1990 to Rajiv Gandhi had resulted ultimately in death of the former Prime Minister in May 1990 in a gruesome manner. He said thus the Special Protection Group cover should be provided to former prime ministers and their family members.

During his reply, Home Minister Amit Shah said it is ironical while lot of controversy is being sparked off due to new norms in SPG laws, there was 'no such row' when SPG cover was withdrawn from other former PMs Chandrashekhar, P V Narasimha Rao, I K Gujral and Manmohan Singh.

At times, people have been treating SPG matters as a 'status' symbol, he said.

He also said Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi often traveled in India and abroad without providing prior and adequate information to SPG.

During the debate, BJP members Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Satyapal Singh and Jagdambika Pal supported the government intent.

"At times the SPG cover criterion is misused even to get allocation of posh bungalows in Lutyen's Delhi. Some of these people are neither MPs but they get good bungalows just because they have SPG cover," said BJP MP Saytapal Singh in obvious reference to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

The Bill was later passed by voice vote after objections raised by opposition members were negated. (UNI)