New Delhi, Nov 28: The Lok Sabha gave on Wednesday passed the SPG Amendment Bill after a heated debate on various pros and cons and Home Minister Amit Shah unambiguously asserting that the political leaders cannot be given 'equal security' as provided to the incumbent Prime Minister in office.
Replying to the debate, Mr Shah made it clear that contrary to opposition charges, 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been generated that the government is not concerned about security of Gandhi family and that their protection has been withdrawn. This is not true, their protection has not been withdrawn but only changed," the Home Minister said.
During the debate 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 drawing criticism from opposition parties.
The Congress members staged a walkout while the Bill was being considered for passage. Gaurav Gogoi, Congress member from Assam, said the new draft law is "political vendetta camouflaged as a legislation". "We oppose this Bill, you should withdraw it," he said. Mr Shah said after 2015, Rahul Gandhi travelled 1,892 times in India and 247 times abroad without informing the SPG. "Members of the Gandhi family have travelled abroad on many occasions without informing the SPG. Such things have been noticed about 600 times," he said.
Mr Shah did not spare Sonia Gandhi as well and said the Congress president had travelled about 50 times in Delhi, 13 times in various parts of the country and 29 times abroad without informing SPG. Similarly, he said Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had travelled 339 times in Delhi without taking the SPG cover, 64 times in different parts of the country and 94 times abroad. He was also critical some SPG protectee took joy ride on a motorbike past mid-night throwing entire security apparatus out of gear. 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. Earlier, Rajiv Pratap Rudy praised the SPG saying they were agile and professional and no incident has taken place since they took over the security.
He said Prime Minister is the 'symbol of democracy' of the country and is representative of the 130 crore people, so "best security" ought be provided to him. He said the Bill is significant today because geo-political content of India is changing. 'We have a hostile neigbourhood. There is multi-dimensional threat and international threat because India is emerging as a global power'. Hanuman Beniwal of RLP said lawmakers should also be given protection and Parliament should also be given protection after the 2001 attack.UNI