Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while defending the decision to remove Special Protection Group cover for the Gandhi family, on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi avoids luxury five star hotels during his foreign visits and chose to take rest at airport terminals instead, IANS reported.
Replying to a debate in the Lok Sabha about Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Shah accused Congress of treating SPG cover like a “status symbol” and held up Modi as an example.
“In his personal and public life, PM Modi has followed a very disciplined regimen,” the home minister said. “For instance whenever PM Modi goes on state visit abroad, he takes less than 20% staff with him. Similarly for the official delegation, he has discouraged using a large number of cars. Earlier officials were using separate cars.... now they use a bus or a large vehicle.”
He said Modi has never spent money on hotels during technical halts, adding that he takes bath and rest at the airport terminals.
Shah said the prime minister has been provided state security for last 20 years, but he has never flouted the security rule book. He alleged that the Gandhi family misused or violated the norms of the Special Protection Group security cover on several occasions.
“For some, security cover has been a status symbol,” Shah added. “For some, security has become a trivial issue where norms are violated at will. But let’s follow the example of Modi ji who adheres to the security norms and protocols.”
Shah said his government would restore the original intent of the SPG cover, which was to provide security for the prime minister. Refuting any charges of the move being a “political vendetta”, he said: “The BJP does not carry out any action with a vindictive approach. It was the Congress which took many such decisions in the past. The term ‘special’ indicates its [SPG’s] special purpose. Many countries have such elite cover exclusively for their respective heads of state.”
Congress leaders in Parliament have brought up the removal of SPG cover for the Gandhi family and protested the move.
The Special Protection Group was set up in 1985 following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi the year before. In 1991, after the assassination of Indira Gandhi’s son Rajiv Gandhi, the SPG Act was amended to allow the force to protect former prime ministers for 10 years.
The Gandhi family have now been granted Z-plus category protection across India. This entitles them to protection by the Central Reserve Police Force.