Gandhi family's SPG cover lifted after 28 years, Congress alleges 'vendetta'

SPG cover for Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, Priyanka withdrawn
Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Sonia Gandhi.

New Delhi: The government has decided to take away the elite SPG protection cover given to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka, officials said on Friday.

The Gandhi family will now get 'Z+' security by the CRPF on an all-India basis, they said.

Only Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be given SPG protection from now on.

The Union government took the decision to withdraw the Gandhi family's Special Protection Group (SPG) cover after a security assessment, a senior official said.

The Gandhis will be without SPG protection for the first time in 28 years. They were included in the VVIP security list following an amendment in September 1991 in the SPG Act of 1988.

Sonia Gandhi's husband Rajiv Gandhi and mother-in-law Indira Gandhi, both former prime ministers, were assassinated.

The government had withdrawn the SPG cover of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in August.

'Blinded by political vendetta'

Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said the decision to remove the SPG cover for Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi is "shocking and vindictive".

"It makes the family vulnerable. Not to forget that two members of the family former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were assassinated. The state has a duty to protect and the SPG cover was not a favour," he said.

Sharma said the UPA government never withdrew Atal Bihari Vajpayee's security cover. "It continued under Modi Government until his death".

By withdrawing SPG cover, government is playing with the lives of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Priyanka, Cong leader K C Venugopal said.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are blinded by personal revenge and political vendetta in withdrawing SPG cover from Gandhis," he alleged.

In 1985, a year after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the SPG was setup to give protection to prime minister's and their families.

After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the SPG act was amended to give protection for the families of former prime ministers also for a period of 10 years. Later, during the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in 2003, it was amended again to let the government to fix the tenure of SPG protection to be given based on the threat.

(With inputs from PTI)