Edit/Op-Ed

Keen to SPG, Narendra Modi Gets Akin

Amit Sinha for BeyondHeadlines

The author notes that the elite cover (SPG) being enjoyed by the VIP Gandhi family without entitlement is a challenge to law of the land.

Amid the ongoing political debate on the need for elite Special Protection Group (SPG) cover for Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, it is cleared by the center that the SPG Act does not allow to provide this highest security cover to the Chief Minister of any state. Though it may sound harsh for the saffron party it must not be an issue of prestige. On the other hand it must be welcomed that an extra ring of NSG was added-on to his security cover and it is now akin to ‘SPG level.’

After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, a trembling Indian politico felt the need for a rather stringent and proximate security cover for Prime Minister. And this is why SPG comes into existence the very next year in 1985. Its stringent team of the best officers physically moves along the practice where ever he moves. They comprise of ring round teams, isolation cordons, the sterile zone, and the rostrum and access control to the person or members of his immediate family.  At present the force has an approximate strength of 3,400 personnel.

After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991, the SPG Act was amended in 1991 to provide security to former Prime Ministers and their immediate families for a period of 5 years from the date on which the former Prime Minister ceased to hold office. It is relevant here to underscore that Rajiv Gandhi had left as PM in 1989.

Information about threats to the life of Narendra Modi is in the public domain for quite a long time. Intelligence agencies and other security inputs in this regard have been approached for a couple of years. The serial bomb blast at Modi’s rally in Patna augments this. Simultaneously at the backdrop of this attack, the party’s demand for an SPG security cover for Narendra Modi is an issue to be cerebrated keeping its long term effect in mind.

Though the center has denied the demand outright, even if Narendra Modi be given an SPG cover by introducing an amendment to the SPG Act as a Chief Minister having life threat, it would set a precedent whereby all CMs would seek SPG cover in the days to come.

In a country where larger than life image of a VIP is created and judged on the parameter of how swollen security strings and the size of the carcade attached to him, it is for sure that the best security outfit will be misused under the garb of a possible life threat. Moreover, there is no dearth of genuine cases too. The Chief Ministers of many NE states, W. Bengal, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh are under threat.

Once such amendment be made to SPG Act there would be a new application for the cover, every next day. With the present set of strength and gears it is not possible to meet such requirements. More importantly, being an elite force with so much exclusiveness, it is not desirable to dilute SPG’s sheen to make it an outfit to cater to all and sundry.

The case of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Robert Vadra, Priyanka Vadra who are enjoying this elite cover without entitlement is a challenge to law of the land and we together must counter it instead taking as an exemplary case to be followed.

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