Hitting out at Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge for stating that Rahul Gandhi could have been killed in the recent attack on his convoy in Gujarat, Home Minister Rajnath Singh accused the Congress vice-president of not following security protocol. Buttressing his claim, he said Rahul traveled abroad on six occasions for 72 days in the last two years without taking any SPG security along.
“In the last two years, Rahul Gandhi was out for 72 days on 6 foreign tours, but didn’t take SPG cover. We want to know where did he go? Why didn’t he take SPG cover. We want to know what is Rahul Gandhi trying to hide by not taking SPG along on foreign tours when he is a SPG protectee,” Rajnath Singh said during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha.
“SPG protectee get security cover under an Act of Parliament reflecting the will and wisdom of Parliament for providing security. Going abroad without taking SPG cover is not only a violation of the SPG Act, but also negligence towards one’s own security,” he said. “Rahul Gandhi undertook 121 tours in the last 2 years, out of which there were 100 security protocol violations of not using Bulletin Resistance Car,” he added.
A stone was hurled at Rahul Gandhi’s car when he was visiting the flood-affected areas Dhanera and Kankrej in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district last week. Congress leadership blamed the BJP for the attack while the saffron party termed it a political stunt” ahead of the assembly elections in the state.
Rajnath also rejected the claim that Rahul was not provided adequate security during the Gujarat visit. “Adequate measures were were taken by the State police ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Banaskantha. Rahul did not listen to the area police or SPG officials but only his personal secretary and did not travel with the car provided by the police,” the Home Minister said further in Lok Sabha. He also claimed that the Rahul had made frequent stops to meet people which was not a part of the itinerary.
He also added that Gujarat’s Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has appointed an officer of the ADG rank to investigate the attack. He also congratulated the Gujarat police for arresting one person in connection with the case.
Referring to an earlier visit by Rahul Gandhi on July 21, 2017 to Gujarat, Rajnath said the Congress leader preferred to use a non-bullet resistance car inspite of security suggestions by SPG on the contrary.
Taking a jibe at the ruling party, Kharge had earlier said, “Sadan mein BJP ke neta & sarkar ke taraf se ek waktavya aaya tha ki J&K mein jo pathhravbaazi ho rha hai wo terrorist kar rhe hain. Gujarat mein kaunse terrorist aaye, kya J&K se aaye, kya BJP ke karyakarta terrorist ban ke inki (R Gandhi) jaan lena chaahte thay.” (The government and BJP members said terrorists indulged in stone pelting in Jammu and Kashmir. Which terrorists had come in Gujarat? Were they from Jammu and Kashmir or did BJP workers come as terrorists to attack Rahul Gandhi.)
“Ek taraf to goli maar ke jaan lete hain, yahan pattharbaazi kar ke unki jaan lene ki koshish ho rahi hai,” (On one side bullet is used to take away life, here stone pelting was used in an attempt to take away Rahul Gandhi’s life) Kharge was quoted as saying by ANI.
Rajnath Singh’s comments led to an uproar in the lower house after which it was adjourned by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.