Centre withdraws Manmohan Singh's top security (SPG) cover: Here's why
The Centre, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has withdrawn Special Protection Group (SPG) security given to his predecessor Dr. Manmohan Singh. The former PM's security cover was downgraded and he has now been given CRPF cover, reports said. This decision was taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) after a routine assessment which involved taking inputs from all agencies. Here's more.
Now, only PM Modi and Gandhis have SPG cover
Reportedly, Dr. Singh's security was reassessed as part of an annual exercise. With the senior Congress leader's exit from the elite group, only four people in the nation enjoy SPG security now, namely, PM Modi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and her children Rahul and Priyanka. The Cabinet Secretariat, Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), and Intelligence Bureau were also involved in this latest decision.
Notably, SPG was set up after Indira Gandhi's assassination
Notably, SPG consists of 3,000 personnel and it gives security to PMs, former PMs, their families. SPG was set up in 1985, a year after former PM Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her security guards. In 2014, after Congress lost power to BJP, Dr. Singh's daughters gave up their SPG covers. Similarly, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's foster daughter also had let her SPG cover go.
Dr. Singh's security cover was renewed every year
In 2003, the then BJP government amended the SPG Act, bringing down automatic protection from 10 years to one. As per rules, PM Modi's government renewed Dr. Singh's security for a year after he left office, and kept doing it for the next few years. However, on May 25 this year, Centre decided to not fully renew the cover but ordered a three-month review, which ended on Sunday.
Home Ministry official revealed Dr. Singh will get Z+ security
"The current security cover review is a periodical and professional exercise based on threat perception that is purely based on a professional assessment by security agencies. Dr. Manmohan Singh continues to have a Z+ security cover," a Home Ministry official disclosed.
Interestingly, SPG cover stayed with Vajpayee till he died
Dr. Singh, who was India's PM between 2004 and 2014, reportedly said he isn't "concerned about security" and will go with the "government's decision". Meanwhile, SPG covers of former PMs HD Deve Gowda and VP Singh were also withdrawn earlier. However, SPG cover, which was given to BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee, remained with him till he died in August 2018.