If the Centre believes that the Gandhi family does not require SPG protection, then "that is a cross the government has to bear", senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said Thursday.
Chidambaram's remarks at a press conference came after the Centre last month replaced the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover of the family of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, assassinated by LTTE terrorists on May 21, 1991, with "Z-plus" security provided by the CRPF.
"If the government believes that the Gandhis don't require or deserve SPG protection, that is a cross the government has to bear. But the Gandhis have been extremely graceful and said 'fine, that is your decision, so be it'," said the former finance minister, who was released from Tihar Jail on Wednesday on bail in connection with the INX Media money-laundering case.
The Congress has stepped up its attack on the government over the removal of SPG cover after a security breach at Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's residence on November 26.
A car drove right up to the porch near the garden at Priyanka Gandhi's Lodhi Estate residence and three men, three women and a girl came out of it, according to sources.
They walked up to the Congress general secretary and asked for photos to be taken with her, sources said, adding she spoke with them nicely, they took pictures with her and left. Later, the office of Priyanka Gandhi took up the issue of security breach with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Under Z-plus security, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, are being protected by CRPF commandos in close proximity.
To reporters' queries on SPG cover being removed from the Gandhi family, Priyanka Gandhi had earlier said, "It's part of politics and this keeps happening."
The Gandhis are without SPG protection after 28 years. They were included in the VVIP security list following an amendment in September, 1991 in the SPG Act of 1988.
A bill, brought in by the BJP-led government, to amend the SPG Act has been passed by Parliament. According to this amendment, the SPG will now protect the prime minister and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.
It will also provide security to former prime ministers and their immediate family members staying with them at the residence allotted for a period of five years from the date on which they cease to hold the office.