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SPG cover of Manmohan Singh shouldn't be withdrawn selectively: Cong

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: August 26, 2019  | 22:02 IST

(Eds: Adding quotes) New Delhi/Kolkata, Aug 26 (PTI) The Congress on Monday said the SPG security cover of former prime minister Manmohan Singh should not be withdrawn selectively and took a swipe at the prime minister and the home minister, stressing "karma is watching" them. Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said such decisions should be taken as per norms. "The MHA has reviewed and withdrawn the security cover.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 But my point is that security cover should not be withdrawn selectively, just because Singh was a prime minister of the Congress government," Chowdhury told PTI over phone. His colleague and party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah 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," he tweeted. The Special Protection Group (SPG) cover given to Singh was withdrawn following a review by multiple security agencies, officials have said. The former prime minister will now get Z-plus security cover to be given by one of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), preferably by the CRPF. 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?" Adhir Ranjan 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 said. "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," he said. 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. The SPG was set up in 1985 after the assassination of 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 V P 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. 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, H D Deve Gowda and I K 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. PTI SKC/PNT AAR

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