Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Wednesday said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would not be extended Special Protection Group (SPG) cover.
Mr. Shinde said there was a law that specified who may be given such cover, and Mr. Modi, moreover, had already been given protection by the National Security Guard.
“SPG [cover] is given according to the law. Mr. Modi has already been provided security by the National Security Guard,” he said, while speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Joint Retreat Ceremony between the border forces of India and Bangladesh at the Petrapole-Benapole border in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district.
The Home Minister’s remarks come in the wake of the BJP’s demand to step up security for its prime-ministerial candidate after the blasts near his rally in Patna last month.
Attack on democracy, says BJP
B. Muralidhar Reddy & Smriti Kak Ramachandran report from New Delhi:
While the BJP demanded that the government provide security to Mr. Modi “commensurate with the threat perception,” Union Minister of State for Home Affairs R.P.N. Singh contended that being a prime ministerial candidate was not a criterion for increasing the level of an individual’s security.
On Tuesday night, a meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Board took note of the blasts in Patna and issued a statement saying it was an attempt to “liquidate” its leaders. “The BJP views this as an attack on Indian democracy. It is a failed attempt to intimidate the BJP which is attracting an unprecedented support from the people across the country,” it said.
Since the Patna blasts, the BJP has been raising concerns over Mr. Modi’s security cover on the ground that he is scheduled to address several rallies in the run-up to the elections to the five State Assemblies.
Mr. Singh said: “Security is given on [the basis of] threat perception, not on who is declared the prime-ministerial candidate. I want to tell the NDA [the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance] that Rajiv Gandhi wasn’t given the security of even a sub-inspector when they were in power. Maybe that’s why he lost his life.”
Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal said: “The Home Minister has already specified that he has adequate security and look at how many Gujarat police personnel and officials accompany him. The Gujarat government is already spending heavily on his security.”