US President Donald Trump could never remove the lifelong Secret Service protection that his predecessor Barack Obama gets. The strength of American institutions would prevent him from committing such a petty and cowardly act, as would the likelihood of diminishing political capital, both with the public at large and with his own craven Republican Party.
No such luck in India. The government is withdrawing the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover previously provided to the Gandhi Parivar. It did not matter that this family has seen two members assassinated — former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. All that matters to this government is a small-minded sense of revenge. No one can doubt that the ruling party derives energy from its personal attacks on Jawaharlal Nehru’s descendants — if he were alive, they would snatch away his security as well.
Supporters of this decision would say, well why not; if the security assessment is lower, then the family, who’ve had it nice and easy on the Government of India’s dime and who’ve been able to live a rarified existence thanks to their protective bubble, should lose that cover. Such bubble-heads forget that the Gandhi family is iconic — that to many, including the ruling party, they represent not just a political threat but also, rightly or wrongly, accumulated grievances. They forget what the Congress points out, that when ex-PM VP Singh withdrew Rajiv Gandhi’s SPG cover upon taking office in 1989, he signed the ex-PM’s death warrant two years later; oddly it was done even though Rajiv had survived an assassination attempt in 1987 in Sri Lanka.
But this government is not worried, even if three members of the Gandhi family are in active politics, and remain high-profile targets in the eyes of a would-be assassin. Its decision to withdraw cover is contemptible....