The Centre Wednesday clarified there was “nothing political” in withdrawing Special Protection Group (SPG) cover to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her children Rahul and Priyanka and former prime minister Manmohan Singh. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister J P Nadda said the decision was taken by the Home Ministry, which, according to the threat perception, has a “set pattern” in providing and withdrawing security cover.
“There is nothing political. The Home Ministry has a very set pattern, and there is a protocol. This is not done by a politician, it is done by the Home Ministry,” Nadda said, amid chaos in the House. “According to the threat perception, security is given and withdrawn,” he added.
Congress MPs have been raising the issue in the House since Monday when the winter session commenced. Speaking over the issue today, Congress leader Anand Sharma said SPG cover should be restored as it was the “duty of the state to protect its leaders”.
“All have been vulnerable to threats. It is the duty of the state to protect its leaders. When UPA was in office, the security cover of D. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not disturbed. We urge the government that issues of personal safety, lives politicians has to be beyond the partisan political considerations,” he said.
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The Centre had downgraded the Gandhis’ security cover earlier this month to CRPF Z-plus. They had been under SPG cover since the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. Manmohan Singh’s cover was lowered two months ago. Sources told The Indian Express the decision came after the government identified “gaps that raise concern“.