The Central government has made some changes with respect to the security cover accorded to the Gandhis. Issuing fresh guidelines, the Centre said it is now mandatory for the SPG personnel to accompany them at all times whenever they travel abroad. According to the present rule, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are guarded by the Special Protection Group (SPG) on their foreign tours. However, the Gandhis would send the SPG personnel back if they preferred privacy.
The Gandhi family will now have to submit all details related to their travel now, as per the new guidelines. According to some media reports, the family has also been asked to furnish information of their past few tours.
The Centre has made it clear that nonacceptance of these new guidelines could lead to curtailment on their foreign visits on account of security considerations.
What is the SPG?
The Parliament had passed the SPG Act in 1988 after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1985. After the law came into force, it directed the group to protect the Prime Minister of India. In 1989, VP Singh government had withdrawn the SPG protection given to the outgoing PM Rajiv Gandhi.
After Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991, the SPG Act was amended, offering SPG protection to all former Prime Ministers and their families for a period of at least 10 years. The rule was amended again in 2002 to make provision for an annual review. Former prime ministers such as HD Deve Gowda also lost their SPG cover after a review.
In August, the Narendra Modi government withdrew the Special Protection Group (SPG) from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s security cover.
A statement from the ministry of home affairs said that Singh will have Z-plus security instead of SPG. "The current security cover review is a periodical and professional exercise based on threat perception that is purely based on the professional assessment by security agencies. Dr. Manmohan Singh continues to have a Z+ security cover," it said.