Rise above party politics on SPG issue: Congress

New Delhi, Dec 3 (PTI) The Congress party opposed the bill to amend the SPG Act in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, saying it was not in the interest of democracy and a right step in the national interest.

Participating in the debate over the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Congress MP Vivek Tankha said everyone wants the Gandhi family to be protected and there should not be 'a party politics' on it.

'What kind of democracy it is? You are putting the opposition to threat,' said Tankha, reminding the House about the fateful incidents in which Indira Ganhi and Rajiv Gandhi were killed.

'Please protect this family,' he said. 'God forbid, if one more fatal incident happens then who would take blame of it?' Citing a recent breach in the security of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, Tankha said, 'This has happened because you have reduced the security level.' 'This is not a party politics. Rise over it,' he said and reminded the House that even former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was provided security with dignity by the previous Congress-led government.

'Today you have numbers (in the House) but any untoward incident happens then who would be responsible,' said Tankha.

However, BJP MP Neeraj Shekhar, who himself was a SPG protectee for 11 years, being the son for former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, said there was no need for such a cover for the family of ex-prime ministers.

'We are spending money on this, which is not needed,' he said adding that all previous amendments extending SPG security to former PMs' family, were wrong.

However, he suggested former PMs and their families should be protected by raising another force.

On the breach in the security of Priyanka Gandhi, he said it should be investigated and the officers found guilty be punished.

A Navaneethakrishnan of AIDMK supported the bill, saying a reasonable decision has been taken by the Centre. 'I welcome this bill,' he said.

SP's Ram Gopal Yadav said the definition of security threats changes with the change of government. 'People should not feel that this has been done for vindictive politics,' said Yadav, adding that the home minister should 'use his conscience' before deciding on threat perceptions.

Prasanna Acharya of BJD supported the bill, saying it can not continue for decades.

'Would this continue till decades (Yeh yug yugantar tak chalta rahega). There are several other families in this country, which has given much more sacrifices,' he said.

However, he suggested that the government should review threat assessment periodically.

R C P Singh of JD(U) also supported the bill and said that the post of PM is a separate position and should not be compared with others.

'When you are not a PM, why would you should get facilities availed by a PM,' he said.

Manas Ranjan Bhunia of AITC also participated in the debate.

The bill to amend the SPG Act was introduced in Rajya Sabha by the government, which now mandates the special force to protect the prime minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence only.

It will also provide security to former prime ministers and their immediate family members staying with them at the residence allotted for a period of five years from the date on which they cease to hold the office.

The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on November 27.

Introducing the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said it was raised to protect the prime minister and his immediate family members only and was later extended to relatives of the former prime ministers through amendments.

This has put an additional burden on SPG as its resources had to being diverted, he said.

'Some people are saying that security of a family has been withdrawn. Nothing such has happened,' he said, adding that there is 'no politics in this'.

'We have taken this step considering the security needs of the prime minister,' said Reddy, adding that this bill has been brought considering the aim for which the elite security force was raised. PTI KRH KRH ABH ABH