Do CMs Deserve SPG Protection?

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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, the center made it clear that the SPG Act does not allow this highest security cover to the Chief Minister of any state.

Terming the controversy over the BJP’s demand for SPG cover to Mr. Modi as "unnecessary," Minister of State for Home R. P. N. Singh said: "Narendra Modi’s security is akin to SPG cover. Today, he is one of the most-protected VIPs."

It may sound harsh for the saffron party but it should not be taken as an issue of prestige. Since an extra ring of NSG has been added-on to the existing security cover of Narendra Modi, it must be welcomed. Modi himself never seemed keen for a SPG cover and what he gets now is 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 the Prime minister. And this is why SPG or Special Protection Group comes into existence the very next year in 1985. SPG cover comprises 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 3400 personnel.

After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991, the SPG Act was amended 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 would be relevant to recall here that Rajiv Gandhi had left the PM office in 1989 itself.

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. At the backdrop of this attack, the party’s demand for a SPG security cover for Narendra Modi is an issue to be thought of seriously keeping its long term effects in mind.

As of now, the center has rejected the demand outright, even if Narendra Modi would have given the SPG cover by introducing an amendment to the SPG act as a Chief Minister having life threat, it would set a wrong precedent whereby every next Chief Minster would seek SPG cover in days to come.

India is a country where the bloated size of the attached security strings to someone is considered a strong parameter in judging one’s position in the society. Therefore, in all probability, chances are quite high that the best security outfit will be misused under the garb of a possible life threat if the rules be made easier. Moreover, there is no dearth of genuine cases too. The Chief Ministers of many north-eastern states, including West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, and Andhra Pradesh are under grave security threat.
If such amendment is made to SPG act, there would be a new application for the SPG cover every other day. With the present strength and gears available, it is not possible for the SPG 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.

At the same time we need to accept that without proper entitlement, UPA’s President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Robert Vadra, and Priyanka Vadra are enjoying this elite cover. It is setting a dangerous trend for the incumbents. Simultaneously, it poses a serious challenge to the law of the land and we must do our best to check this menace.

amit sinhaAmit K. Sinha is a bilingual investigative journalist who works independently. For the last couple of years he is in Patna writing for many prints and portals.


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