Priyanka Gandhi asked to vacate government bungalow by August 1
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was on Wednesday asked to vacate her government-allocated Lodhi Estate house in New Delhi by August 1. In a notice addressed to Gandhi, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs said that the allotment of the bungalow stood canceled after her SPG security cover was withdrawn last year. Here are more details on this.
Last year, government downgraded Gandhi family's security cover
In November last year, the SPG security cover to Gandhi, her mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and her brother and Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi, was withdrawn and lowered down to Z-plus. The central government had attributed the revision to a reduced threat perception for the family. The Gandhis are now protected by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) under Z-plus cover.
Any stay beyond the due date could attract a penalty
In its notice, the Ministry added that there is no provision of allotment or retention of government accommodation to those with Z-plus security cover. Notably, unlike her mother and brother, Gandhi is not a member of parliament, and therefore not entitled to a government bungalow. Now, if Gandhi fails to vacate the property by due date, she would have to pay a penalty.
Gandhi was allotted the bungalow in 1997
"Consequent upon withdrawal of SPG protection and grant of Z+ security cover by Ministry of Home Affairs... the allotment of Type 6B house number 35, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi is hereby cancelled with effect from 01/07/2020," the Ministry's notice read. Gandhi was allotted the said government bungalow on February 21, 1997 on security grounds as an SPG protectee.
Earlier, Congress had accused Centre of "political vendetta"
Earlier, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had claimed that there have been 600 instances when members of Gandhi family violated security norms by traveling without SPG cover. "I have no hesitation saying on record that the changes made to the (SPG) Bill earlier were made keeping a single family (Gandhis) in mind," Shah had said. However, Congress had accused the Centre of "political vendetta".
SPG was set up in 1985 after Indira Gandhi's assassination
It should be noted that the SPG, which comprises 3,000 security personnel, was set up in 1985, following the assassination of the then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the year before. Later, in 1991, after the assassination of Indira's son and former PM Rajiv Gandhi, SPG Act was amended to allow forces to protect former prime ministers and their families for a period of 10 years.
What are the amendments made in the SPG Bill?
The SPG (Amendment) Bill 2019, that was passed by the Lok Sabha on November 27 last year, entails protection to the Prime Minister and their immediate family residing with them at PM's official residence. Further, the SPG shall continue providing protection to former PMs and their immediate families residing with them, for a period of five years, starting the day they vacate the office.