Government withdraws SPG cover to Gandhis; Cong calls it 'vendetta'

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 8

The central government has withdrawn the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka, and they will now be given Z-plus security by the CRPF, officials said on Friday.

The decision to withdraw the SPG cover given to the family of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated by LTTE terrorists on June 21, 1991, was taken after a detailed security assessment, a senior official said.

The Gandhis will be without SPG protection after 28 years. They were included in the VVIP security list following an amendment in September 1991 in the SPG Act of 1988.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will now be the only person being protected by the elite SPG commandos.

The Gandhi family will be covered by CRPF personnel. Under the Z-plus security, they will have commandos from the paramilitary force in close proximity besides guards at their homes and where ever they travel in the country, the official said.

SPG protectees, under the rules, are provided with guards, hi-tech vehicles, jammers and an ambulance in their carcade.

In August this year, the government withdrew the SPG cover of former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

The SPG Act, enacted by Parliament in 1988, was initially supposed to provide security to only the prime minister and former prime ministers of the country.

The Act was amended after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi to include the immediate family members of former prime ministers, paving the way for Sonia Gandhi as well her children to get SPG security.

The need for a separate force for guarding the prime minister of the country was felt after Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own security guards on October 31, 1984.


Congress said it was “personal revenge and political vendetta”.

“Modi and Amit Shah have murdered democracy and political propriety by unilaterally withdrawing SPG cover. Two former prime ministers of India, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, were murdered, and it was former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to give the family SPG protection. VP Singh made the same mistake, and Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated,” AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said at a press conference at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi.  

“We know of recent threats to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. When Rahul went to Wayanand, he was told not to go near the masses,” he said.

Periodic review of the SPG cover has concluded that the three Gandhis faced threat, he said.

“Usually a withdrawal notice comes from the cabinet secretary, but here it came from the ministry. On what basis have they withdrawn it? They are playing with the lives of the Gandhis,” he said.

Senior party leader Ahmed Patel also accused  BJP of descending to the "ultimate personal vendetta mechanism”.

The BJP is compromising the lives of family members of two former prime ministers to acts of terror and violence, he said referring to the assassinations of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

“The BJP has descended to the ultimate personal vendetta mechanism, compromising the lives of family members of 2 Former Prime Ministers to acts of terror and violence,” Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel tweeted. With agencies

RELATED Congress, DMK stage walkout from LS over Gandhis' SPG cover