As the Congress accused the government of putting the lives of its leaders at risk after over a security breach at party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s residence, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Tuesday said it was “coincidence” that a Congress leader from Meerut arrived in an identical car used by Rahul Gandhi at the same time he was expected to visit. Three security officers have been suspended over the breach, Shah said.
“Priyanka Gandhi got information that Rahul Gandhi was coming to meet her in black SUV, but another black SUV came at the same time which had Meerut Congress leader Sharda Tyagi in it.
“The car and timing were same, such was the coincidence. That’s why the car with Sharda Tyagi went in without security check. Then also, we’ve ordered high-level probe & suspended 3 officers responsible for breach,” he informed Rajya Sabha during a debated on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019
Hitting out at the Congress for opposing the recent withdrawal of the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover to the Gandhi family, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Tuesday said: “security cannot be a status symbol”.
Shah said the BJP does not oppose the Gandhi family, as alleged by the Congress, but opposes dynastic politics, adding that the SPG cover should only be for the head of the state.
— Office of Amit Shah (@AmitShahOffice) December 3, 2019
“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 said.
The Modi government recently withdrew the SPG cover from members of the Gandhi family and introduced a Bill that will not only deprive immediate families of Prime Ministers of security — unless they stay in the official residence — but also restrict the cover to former PMs and their families to five years.
The Home Minister also denied allegations of “political vendetta” in removing the elite SPG cover, maintaining that three members of the Gandhi family are being given security by personnel who were part of their SPG previously. Shah also sought to know why the Congress did not object when the security cover of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other non-Gandhi families were withdrawn.
The Rajya Sabha passed the SPG (Amendment) Bill after the Congress staged a walkout, saying it is dissatisfied with the Home Minister’s reply. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged that they wanted to protest, but all “dissenting” voices were being “throttled”.
Referring to the Gandhi family last week in the Lok Sabha, the home minister said that “three protectees” of the Special Protection Group (SPG) have “flouted security rules around 600 times”. Shah said the Bill would restore the law’s original intent, as enacted in 1988, which is to protect the prime minister and former prime minister.