December 3, 2019
Manas Bhunia speaks on The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019
Thank you Sir.
Today we have taken up The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for discussion in the Rajya Sabha. I was listening to the speech of Neeraj Shekhar Ji; it reminded me of some old incidents where I was directly involved and present during those days. Those incidents were very important factors for the implementation of the SPG Act for Hon’ble Prime Minister and his/her family members.
Sir, I will talk on a centric point, not on the political issue or on the issues of vendetta in politics. The ruling party was on that side and the Congress leadership and members were on this side. Today I am in a centric position to talk. What is the reality? The reality is Birbal Nath Committee recommended in 1985, following which an executive order was passed, which continued from 1985 to 1988, after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Madam Indira Gandhi Ji on October 31, 1984.
On that particular day I was with the ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Ji, when he was the General Secretary of the AICC, in Medinipur district in Contai. I was in charge of four of his meetings. We got the message at 9:10 AM that Indira Gandhi was assassinated in her own residence at 9 AM. All the programmes were stopped and Rajiv Ji rushed to Delhi, along with Mr Pranab Mukherjee and ABA Gani Khan Chowdhury Ji. I myself, Subrata Mukherjee and Mamata Banerjee, today Chief Minister of Bengal, rushed to Delhi in the evening flight. We witnessed that horror, the sad incident prevailing all over the country, including Delhi.
Sir, on June 7, 1988, this Act came into effect and was executed. It accorded SPG security to Hon’ble Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Ji and his family members living within the residence of the Prime Minister. He was defeated in 1989. A new government came under the Prime Ministership of Hon’ble VP Singh. He relaxed and withdrew the SPG protection and proximity protection to the Prime Minister.
Hon’ble former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Ji was assassinated by a bomb blast in 1991 on May 21. That day, my election to the Assembly of West Bengal was completed and I brought the ballot boxes to Midnapore headquarter to deposit for counting in future days. We heard the news and were shocked. It was a tragic situation.
After that Mr Narsimha Rao came to power as the Prime Minister and amended this Act and he extended it for ten years. After that, the amendment came into force in 1991, 1994, 1999 and 2003. I was listening to Neeraj Bhai, the son of the great leader Chandrashekhar Ji. He was the young turk of Congress during that period in 1972, when I was a student. He attended the session of the All India Congress Committee in Bidhan Nagar, Kolkata. So, I was reminded of his father’s face and those firebrand speeches of Chandrashekhar Ji.
So, why has this amendment become so critical? Hon’ble Home Minister is here. Hon’ble MoS presented this Bill in Rajya Sabha. He will speak, they will give their opinion. My basic question is, it’s not a question of a family. In post-independent India, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. After that, in a single family two Prime Ministers were assassinated. One is Indira Ji, and the second is Rajiv Ji. The entire country and all the political parties and the government will not consider that point during the amendment or not. If not, I have nothing to say; if it is, I will appreciate it.
My basic question is don’t take the name of, and don’t mention the name of a family. It hurts the basic sentiments of Indian politics. It is against the essence of parliamentary democracy. It fills the mind with hatred. We should not harbour that hatred in our minds. We should be very free; we should be very free to accept, what is the reality, what is the past, where we are standing in the present moment, where we are going in the future.
Thank you, Sir.