If Modi can’t have SPG cover, so shouldn’t the Gandhis
There has been a raging debate over security cover for BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and the Sunday’s blasts in Patna have made this a talking point.
Even as Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde maintains that Modi doesn’t necessarily need Special Protection Group cover, he would need to answer why the government amended the SPG Act two years back to extend the security cover for Sonia and her family members.
That the Centre has resisted from deploying SPG cover for Modi, who has been on the top of the hit list of every terrorist outfit, has prompted some to believe that there could be politics at play here.
For starters, the SPG Act was brought into force after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination. It states that SPG cover shall be given to prime ministers, former prime ministers and their near family members.
The Act further states that in the case of SPG cover is given to family members, the same shall cease to exist after the completion of 10 years.
The home ministry issued an order recently extending the SPG cover for Sonia Gandhi and her family for another 5 years.
This was done despite the Act clearly stating that the extension of an SPG cover can be granted only for a year and then onwards it needs to be reviewed periodically. However, the order regarding Sonia stated that the cover is being extended for another five years and the same had been extended to her son and daughter.
Further, it also put Robert Vadra and his two children under Delhi Police commando security for another five years.
If one were to go by the rules, it is clear that the security cover under the SPG ought to have ended for the Congress president in 1999. She was accorded that security in 1989 as her late husband was a prime minister. However, the act was amended for her as it was felt that the threat perception was extremely high.
Former Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, C D Sahay points out that there should be no politics where security is concerned.
“I was watching the preparations being made during the recent Rahul Gandhi rally at New Delhi. I saw Chief Minister Sheila Dixit personally inspecting the venue. I do not know if she inspected the venue in her capacity as a chief minister or as a party worker, but the fact was that the security was good and the even passed off without any glitch.
Now was there an inspection by the chief minister at Bihar?”
“While it may be expecting too much from a political opponent to inspect the venue, politics should never come into play when it comes to security. The local police had to comb the area and sanitise it and this ought to have been done irrespective of an intelligence alert of not,” Sahay points out.
According to security experts, even if any leader has Z plus security or is under the SPG, the state police is the one which has to do the combing operation of the venue where the leader is supposed to visit.
Both Z plus and SPG provide only body cover for the leader in question, but under no circumstance does it comb an area.
An Intelligence Bureau official, while speaking about the intelligence inputs regarding the Modi event in Patna, said: “If they want the central team to do the entire job then we need 2 lakh men on the job and if this is provided then we can collect intelligence at the village levels too. Now if the Centre decides to provide 2 lakh men and all of them are on the job, then it is the very same state government which will complain of being too intrusive.”