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Posted at: Nov 21, 2019, 6:55 AM; last updated: Nov 21, 2019, 6:55 AM (IST)

BJP, Cong members spar over SPG withdrawal in RS

BJP, Cong members spar over SPG withdrawal in RS
Police detain Cong men during a protest against the withdrawal of SPG cover to party chief Sonia Gandhi, her children and ex-PM Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday. Mukesh Aggarwal

Ravi S Singh

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 20

Members of the Congress and BJP in Rajya Sabha sparred on Wednesday with the former asking the government to rise over partisan politics and restore Special Protection Group (SPG) security cover to former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the Gandhi family while a senior BJP leader suggested the party move the court.

“It is the responsibility of the state to protect its leaders,” said Anand Sharm, deputy leader of Congress in the Rajya Sabha while raising the issue during Zero Hour. Sharma said lives of four leaders namely, Singh, Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have become vulnerable after withdrawal of the SPG cover as threat to their lives was obvious.

The Union government had replaced the SPG cover given to Gandhis and Singh by “Z plus” security of the CRPF, a few days ago.

“Please rise above partisan politics. Review and restore the SPG cover. That would be in national interest, otherwise intention will be questioned today, tomorrow and in the future,” Sharma said, urging the government that personal safety and security of leaders should be above partisan and petty politics.

The Congress benches batted for government’s response on floor of the House to which Naidu said it was government’s prerogative in the matter.

Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy joined issues with Congress leaders saying the decision was of the Home Ministry based on its threat assessment to the protectee.

He said if the Congress felt that a wrong was being done then it could challenge it in a court of law. “The SPG is not a privilege,” Swamy said.

Threat perception to the Gandhis had genesis in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the ethnic volatility spearheaded by LTTE in Sri lanka.

Defending government, BJP member and party’s working president JP Nadda said no politics was involved in withdrawing the SPG cover. “The Home Ministry has a ‘set pattern’ and ‘protocol’ in assessing the threat perception to prospective protectees.

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