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'Karma is watching': Congress on govt's decision to withdraw Manmohan Singh's SPG cover

According To Procedures Laid Down By The SPG Act, 1988, Singh Was Entitled To SPG Cover For One Year After He Demitted Office In 2014.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Nabanita Chakorborty | Updated on: 27 Aug 2019, 12:31:47 AM
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (Photo Source: PTI)

New Delhi :

A day after the Home Ministry withdrew the SPG security cover of former prime minister Manmohan Singh, the Congress on Monday took a dig at PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, stressing that "karma is watching" them.

Speaking to the news agency PTI over phone, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, "The MHA has reviewed and withdrawn the security cover. They have also given a reason for doing this. But my point is that security cover should not be withdrawn selectively, just because Singh was a prime minister of the Congress government".

Chowdhury said when it comes to providing security cover, it should be done as per norms. "If the BJP government thinks otherwise it is up to them," he was quoted as saying. "After demitting his office (in 2014) Singh has neither asked for security cover nor will he ask for it in future. It was government's decision," the Congress leader added.

In a veiled attack at Modi and Shah, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said that the two should remember that they will also cease to hold their posts one day. "Present PM's and HM's who order withdrawal of security and benefits for former PM's must remember that they too will be former one day. Karma is always watching," Singhvi tweeted.

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Another party spokesperson Sanjay Jha said, "Withdrawing SPG cover of former PM Dr Manmohan Singh who has just entered Rajya Sabha again and is active politically is a new moral low by this government. Or is this a public admission that we are so badly broke?"

The Special Protection Group (SPG) cover given to Singh, who had been India's prime minister between 2004 and 2014, was withdrawn from his New Delhi residence following a review by multiple security agencies this week. However, Singh will continue to get Z-plus security cover provided by one of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), preferably by the CRPF.

With the removal of Singh's SPG protection, the top-notch security cover will now be given only to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Gandhi family - Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children, Rahul and Priyanka.

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According to procedures laid down by the SPG Act, 1988, Singh was entitled to SPG cover for one year after he demitted office in 2014. His SPG security cover was renewed annually after a review of the threats faced by him and his wife Gursharan Kaur. Singh's daughters, who were also given SPG cover, gave up the protection voluntarily in 2014.

The SPG was set up in 1985 after the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi. Parliament passed the SPG Act in 1988, dedicating the group to protecting the prime minister. At the time, the act did not have provisions for former prime ministers.

When VP Singh came to power in 1989, his government withdrew SPG protection given to his predecessor Rajiv Gandhi. The SPG Act was, however, amended to offer SPG cover to all former prime ministers and their families for at least 10 years, following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

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The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government conducted a review of the SPG's functioning, and decided to withdraw the cover given to former prime ministers P V Narasimha Rao, HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral.

In 2003, he amended the SPG Act again to bring the period of automatic protection down from 10 years to "a period of one year from the date on which the former prime minister ceased to hold office" and beyond one year based on the level of threat as decided by the government.

(With inputs from agencies)

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First Published : 27 Aug 2019, 12:31:47 AM