Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Tuesday questioned in Rajya Sabha why SPG protection should be accorded to the Gandhis, saying the Constitution is equal for all and he would like to see the family in jail on corruption charges. Welcoming the SPG (Amendment) Bill, he said the assassinations of former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had nothing to do with security.
“Constitutional principle of equality before the law applies to them (Gandhis). There cannot be a separate Constitution for them. The Constitution applies to all of us,” he said.
Questioning the privilege to them, Swamy remarked: “We want them (Gandhis) to be all alive because I would like to see them to go to jail on corruption charges.”
Referring to former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination, he said that it was nothing to do with the lack of security. “In the case of Mrs Indira Gandhi, the IB had presented a report saying that two of your security guards are infected and they should be transferred out. It is on record. It is there in the various commissions which have gone into this and it was not approved by Mrs Gandhi herself and also members of the family. And those very two guards assassinated her in her own house, not when she was on tour or when she was addressing a meeting.”
Challenging KTS Tulsi to prove his reference to a report that said Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination was due to a security lapse, he said it was he who moved the resolution in the House at that time and had got hold of the report submitted.
Swami said, “It was laid on the table of the House... The Commission has also observed that the Congress party workers and organisers of the venue of the meeting did not extend the required cooperation to the police and created impediments in making proper security arrangements for Rajiv Gandhi particularly in ensuring strict access control in his proximity.”
He said the then government had accepted the recommendations of the commission that some guidelines and code of discipline should be framed for political parties. Talking about the present threat perception to the Gandhis, Swamy said, “It must be very serious otherwise Z plus would not have been given.”
At the same time he said that none of the threat perceptions which earlier existed were there now. “One is the LTTE threat,” he said and added the IK Gujaral government was toppled on the ground that the DMK was a member of it and therefore the Congress withdrew support.
“It is on record... Now they are friends with the DMK. The Supreme Court said that this crime was so gruesome and so much against the nation that they should be given capital punishment,” Swamy said. He claimed Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to the President advocating reduction of punishment to life imprisonment.
He said he has the copy of the letter. Swamy also said that Priyanka Gandhi went to jail to meet Nalini despite the jail manual providing for “only relatives” can meet convicted prisoners. "She broke the prison rule. And so there is no threat from LTTE."
Demanding to know what else could be the threat, he said in a lighter vein that “Islamic forces cannot be threat because they are very secular. We are the ones who have to suffer from it... Constitutional principle of equality before the law applies to them.”
Later the House passed the bill to amend the Act governing the elite-Special Protection Group (SPG). Earlier Tulsi (Nominated) said that security must be above politics.
“Threat perception has to be decided by experts and we are not waiting for an incident to happen,” he said quoting a report on Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination which said that the prime cause was withdrawal of SPG cover.
“It will be decided on whims of those in office on who needs protection. Request home minister to lay on table any report that says that there is no threat to the Gandhis,” he said.
KK Ragesh (CPI-M) questioned the government’s intentions to bring such a bill saying it was “politically motivated.” He said that the Prime Minister has violated the SPG protocol many times, and it is called “heroism”.
BK Hariprasad (Cong) urged the government to exercise some restraint and added that in every third speech, Modi and Amit Shah attacked Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. He said if there is no protection to those getting lynched in the country, how safe are these politicians, he questioned adding that bluebook guidelines of SPG have been violated 600 times.
Opposing the bill, P Wilson (DMK) said it targets one party and ignores the assassination of Rajiv and Indira Gandhi.? “Rajiv Gandhi’s SPG cover was revoked after he demitted PM’s office and then he was assassinated.”
“Are we compromising security on account of saving a few lakhs? Democracy is not static. Tomorrow, you will occupy the Opposition bench. How can threat perception be fixed for 5 years,” he asked.
Wilson said that the government should consider that the amendment will not just affect the Gandhi family but also the BJP after it demits office. V Vijaysai Reddy (YSRCP) said the SPG had become status symbol and represent “colonial hangover”. Binoy Viswam (CPI) said it was political vendetta. Others who spoke include Naresh Gujaral (SAD), Narendra Jadhav (Nominated) and Satish Chandra Misra (BSP).