Rajya Sabha passes SPG Amendment Bill amid walkout by Congress

Rajya Sabha passes SPG Amendment Bill amid walkout by Congress

The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bill was passed through a voice vote. However, the Congress staged walkout from the House. After this, the SPG cover will be provided to the incumbent Prime Minister and his immediate family living with him at the official residence. Also, ex-PMs and their respective family members will get the SPG cover only if they live at the official residence. The MHA will have the right to review SPG cover for former PM after five years from the day of retirement.

Earlier, this high level of security was provided to family members of former prime ministers.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Home Minister Amit Shah said that it was not brought by keeping only Gandhi family in mind. ‘Security from Gandhis was withdrawn after the threat assessment analysis even before bringing this bill,’ he said. Shah said that this is the fifth amendment in the SPG Act. ‘This amendment is not brought in by keeping Gandhis in mind, but, one thing that I can say for sure is that the previous 4 amendments were done by keeping only one family in mind,’ he added.

The Lok Sabha had passed the Bill on November 27. Initiating the debate on the Bill, Amit Shah had said that SPG shall provide proximate security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members residing with him at his official residence. The Bill states that family members of a former Prime Minister who reside with him at his allotted accommodation will get security cover of the SPG only for five years, from the date he/she ceases to hold the office of Prime Minister.

Last month, the government central government withdrew the SPG cover of all the family members of former prime ministers. The security cover of Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi was also replaced with Z plus. The Congress objected to the move and said that Modi and Shah were targeting the Gandhi family.

Today, the Home Minister responded to the charge and said: ‘Security cannot be made a status symbol. Why demand only SPG? SPG cover is meant for only the ‘head of the state’, we cannot be giving it to everyone. We don’t oppose one family, we are against dynasty politics.’

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