During the debate preceding the passing of the SPG Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah quipped that the only person who would be inconvenienced by the changed law was current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as he would be stripped of the facility five years later. Shah also said during the debate, addressing the discomfort of INC MPs who had been protesting against the lower-level security for Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, that the government was against dynasties, not families. The context for that was the fact that the amended law does not offer the highest level of security to the members of a former prime minister’s family, which the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has been enjoying because Rajiv Gandhi was once the prime minister of the country.
Amit Shah said that the security provided by the state could never be a status symbol.
The Union home minister said if anyone were to be harmed by the new SPG law, it would be Prime Minister Modi. “Because after five years his SPG security cover will go away,” Shah said, pointing out that “the security of Chandrashekhar ji, VP Singh ji, Narasimha Rao ji, IK Gujral ji and Manmohan Singh ji has been changed to Z plus, too.” The home minister said he wondered why the INC MPs did not protest when the security covers of these former prime ministers (including those from their party) and their families were downgraded.
Earlier, in the Rajya Sabha, starting the discussion on the SPG Act Amendment Bill, INC’s Vivek Tankha said that this bill smacked of politics whereas the issue of security must be beyond a partisan approach.
Tankha said that the SPG had been formed after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. When the law was enacted, he said, the then Prime Minister (Rajiv Gandhi) and his family were brought under its protection. “The government changed in 1989. Everyone knew that Rajiv Gandhi’s life was in danger. The government was requested for their safety. Rajiv Gandhi was eventually assassinated in 1991. The country lost young leadership.”
In fact, Shah had responded to the issue raised by Tankha when similar questions were raised in the Lok Sabha.