Why SPG Cover for Rahul and Priyanaka
R. K SINHA
Priyanka Gandhi Vadhara who has been allotted a sprawling bungalow 35, Lodhi Estate in Lutyen Zone pays a paltry rent of Rs.8,888 per month. This is revealed by an RTI activist Ashish Bhattacharya who received this reply from the government on his RTI application. The bungalow has six rooms and two big halls spread over one acre surrounded by long walls with security posts. Security forces are there for 24 hours.Well, Priyanaka and Rahul need security cover, after all they are from the Nehru-Gandhi
You can’t get even a one room flat in Delhi for Rs.8,888/- a month. Public may ask when Priyanka’s husband Rober Vadhra has a business empire running into several hundred crores of rupees, does it look nice that Priyanka should live on the public money in sprawling bungalow? There families of other former Prime Ministers living in Delhi who don’t have this privilege.
See the contrast. Recently there was small news about death of P V Rajeswar Rao, son of former Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao. He was 70. Rajeswar Rao was also a former Member of Parliament of the Congress Party. He never got any cover of Special Protection Group (SPG) nor any of his sister of brother got the security cover of the SPG. Like Rao, many family members of former Prime Ministers live like ordinary citizen. Upvinder Singh, daughter of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh teaches history in Delhi University. She lives life of an ordinary teacher.
Two sons of former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar live like ordinary citizens without any special security cover. Neeraj Shekhar, son of Chandra Shekhar is a Member of Parliament. But crores of rupees are being spent daily for security cover of family of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi because they are udner SPG cover, Is that life of others who are also sons and daughters of former prime ministers are not in danger?
SPG was created in 1985 at the recommendation of Birbal Nath Committee. It so happened that when Rajiv Gandhi went to Raj Ghat, a man was detected hiding in the bushes. Later the Police found that he was mentally insane. It could not be established, if the man was there to watch Rajiv Gandhi or he was there to attack him. Many Police officers faced action after the incident on the recommendation of Birbal Nath Committee. It was then that need to have a special force to protect Prime Minister realized. This led to the creation of the SPG force. Dr S. Subramaniam was its first Director General. Only a year ago, in 1984 then serving Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her security guards on 31st October at 1, Safdarjung Road in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star in Golden Temple. This is how the SPG came into being. President and Vice President were also brought under SPG cover. The government also decided to give SPG cover to former prime ministers from the day they demit office for five years.
In May 1991, Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister met a tragic end when LTTE terrorists assassinated him in Serempedur on 21st May during election campaign.
In 2002, a major amendment was made in the SPG Act in which the security cover was extended to Sonia Ganhi and her children Rahul and Priayanka.
From the budget proposals of Finance Minister Arun Jaitly in 2015-16, Government spent 359.55 crores of rupees on SPG that means we spend almost one crore rupees every day on SPG.
Sonia Gandhi is not a former Prime Minister. She is widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. She is a Member of Parilament. Yet, she has been given huge bungalow and SPG cover. There should be a debate on whether Sonia Gandhi should be given the SPG cover. But there is no need to spend so much public money on giving SPG cover to Rahul and Priyanka.
SPG get training on the pattern of security forces guardind the US President. There are sharp shooters also in the force. The importance of the SPG can be gauged from the fact that when a Prime Minister or former Prime Minister visits a place, the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police come under the control of the SPG chief.
Why public of the country should bear the cost of SPG coverage to Rahul and Priyanka. Rahul is a Member of Parliament and there are as many as 795 MPs in the country. Why this special treatment. The Government should amend the Act to withdraw SPG cover to Rahul and Priyanka.