The Narendra Modi government has abolished the Special Protection Group (SPG) from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s security cover.
Singh will now have Z-plus security rather than SPG, A statement from the ministry of the home affair. It said that “The current security cover review is a periodical and professional exercise based on threat perception that is purely based on professional assessment by security agencies. Dr. Manmohan Singh continues to have a Z+ security cover”.
Congress leaders termed the improvement unfortunate.
UPA had also examined former Prime Minister and senior BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s security under the revised rules but continued with his SPG cover till his death last year, pointed out from the official Sources of Manmohan Singh.
Unlike Vajpayee, who was incapacitated after resigning office, Singh actively moves around and hence is more revealed to safety threats, said by Singh’s officials.
The SPG was framed in 1985 after the slaying of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and Parliament passed the SPG Act in 1988 committing the group to protect the Prime Minister of India.
In 1989, the VP Singh government had eliminated the SPG protection given to the outgoing PM Rajiv Gandhi.
In 1991, after Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, the SPG Act was altered, offering SPG protection to all former Prime Ministers and their families for a period of at least ten years. Again, the rule was revised in 2002 to make provision for an annual review. Former prime ministers such as HD Deve Gowda also lost their SPG cover after an investigation.
Sources said that the Intelligence Bureau had provided a protection assessment report in Singh’s case, post which the decision to abolish the SPG was necessitated. Last week, Arvind Kumar (Director, Intelligence Bureau) had met the former PM.
In June, Singh’s official staff strength was also reduced, pushing to the war of words between the BJP and Congress, with the latter claiming that UPA had left Vajpayee’s office staff strength untouched and it should be interchanged by the NDA.
From 2004 to 2014, Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister for ten years. His daughters had relinquished their SPG cover after his tenure got finished.