With removal of Gandhis from the SPG list, the elite cover will include Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo Credit: File Image)
Months after the SPG cover was withdrawn from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Narendra Modi government is set to withdraw the elite security arrangement from the Gandhi family. According to the sources in Amit Shah-led Union Home Ministry, the top officials reviewed the security of interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, her son and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi. It has been recommended to withdraw the SPG cover from the Gandhis. Instead of SPG, the Gandhis will now be provided with Z+ CPPF security. Back in August, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s SPG security cover was withdrawn. The decision was taken by Amit Shah-led Home Ministry after the annual review.
Sources say that the home ministry officials assessed how the Gandhis didn’t ‘cooperate’ with the SPG security personnel. Sources say that “during 2005-2014, travelled in non-BR (bullet resistant) vehicles on 18 visits to different parts of the country.” “Since 2015, there has been 1892 occasions [till May 2019] when he travelled in a non-BR vehicle in Delhi, which amounts to almost one incident everyday. There have been 247 occasions [till June 2019] when he travelled in a non-BR vehicle outside Delhi. He even travelled on the roof of vehicle on a few occasions during internal tours in violation of the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act and security advices. During his visit at Banaskantha (Gujarat) on 4th August 2017, while he was travelling in a non-BR car again the security advice of SPG there was an incident of stone pelting on the non-BR private car of the Protectee in which the SPG PSO was injured. The injury could have been avoided had the SPG BR-car was used. This matter was raised by the Congress Party in the Parliament and media and the Hon’ble Home Minister of India made a statement in Lok Sabha wherein it was informed that Sh. Rahul Gandhi did not avail SPG BR vehicles for 100 occasions out of his 121 visits between April 2015 to June 2017,” the assessment report said.
For Sonia Gandhi, it was observed that, “she did not use SPG BR vehicle on 50 occasions while travelling in New Delhi from 2015 to May 2019. On all but one of these occasions, Sh. Rahul Gandhi drove her non-BR car. She also undertook 13 unscheduled visits to various places in the country in the last 5 years [till May 2019] during which she used non-BR cars. She also did not take SPG officers on 24 of her foreign visits since 2015.”
For Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, home ministry sources, ‘Since 2015 till May 2019, she did not use SPG BR vehicles for her travel on 339 occasions within Delhi and on 64 occasions at other places in the country.She used non-BR vehicles against the advice of SPG officers on these visits. Out of total 99 foreign visits that she has undertaken since 1991, she took SPG security cover only on 21 occasions and refused to take the security for other 78 visits. On most such tours, she shared her travel plan at the eleventh hours rendering it impossible for SPG to depute officers for her security. Since May 2014, on several occasions, she had levelled allegations against SPG officers that they were collecting her personal and confidential information and sharing with unauthorised persons. She even threatened the top officials of SPG to drag them into legal action. SPG has from time to time countered such allegations by clarifying that it confines its work to strictly the official charter.’