Rahul Gandhi snooping row: Govt readies defence, says Modi, Shah, Sonia among 526 profiledhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/on-rahul-furore-govt-readies-defence-modi-shah-sonia-among-526-profiled/

Rahul Gandhi snooping row: Govt readies defence, says Modi, Shah, Sonia among 526 profiled

According to senior government sources, it will point out that the enquiries were part of 'a routine exercise'.

Rahul Gandhi, BJP, Congress
With just two days left to meet February 28 deadline set by Rahul, state headquarters has received only about 1.63 lakh filled membership forms so far.

The NDA government has prepared a detailed defence to counter Congress allegations that the recent Delhi Police enquiries at the residence of its leader Rahul Gandhi were a form of “political espionage”.

According to senior government sources, it will point out that the enquiries were part of “a routine exercise” and that 526 others have been similarly profiled before, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, BJP chief Amit Shah this year, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi at least thrice.

They added that the enquiries were also part of a procedure started in 1957 by the Delhi Police — the proforma for collating information was revised in 1999 — to maintain profiles of senior leaders living in Lutyens Delhi.

For instance, Sonia Gandhi was first profiled in 1998, then in October 2004, five months after the UPA came to power, and for the last time in 2012 — in between, her profile was updated thrice.

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Former prime minister A B Vajpayee was first profiled in 1996 and last, since he is seriously unwell, on June 9, 2011. President Pranab Mukherjee was first profiled in 2001 and last in 2010, when he was part of the UPA Cabinet.

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“This is a routine exercise. If you recall, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi who was killed in a bomb blast was identified because of the shoe he was wearing. This kind of a database was maintained and updated every three-four years. There is a specified proforma and is normally filled by a junior officer through close aides. Where is the question of espionage?” a source said.

Others who were similarly profiled since the proforma was revised in 1999 include BJP veteran L K Advani in 2011; External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in 2013; Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in 2009; former prime ministers H D Deva Gowda and I K Gujaral in 2011; and Home Minister Rajnath Singh in 2007, sources said.

Among those re-profiled by Delhi Police between 2011-13 include former CM Sheila Dikshit, Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel and former defence minister George Fernandes, they added.

The Congress, however, had raised the political pitch on the issue with spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi demanding a “comprehensive explanation”.

“We are not a police state, this is political espionage,” Singhvi had said. “We demand a comprehensive explanation by no less than the Home Minister and the Prime Minister… We will raise this issue in Parliament.”

The proforma that was revised in 1999 seeks information under 12 sections. Under “Descriptive Roll”, Delhi Police seek personal details under 10 points such as dress including shoes usually worn by the individual; moustaches/beard; colour of eye; special marks of identification; gait, etc.

The proforma, which has to be filled by an officer of inspector-rank, also seeks information on place of birth, education. “It is casually done. Sometimes, under the segment Brief History, they will seek information of close friends, eating habits, etc,” a source said.

“With several crucial bills pending, the government does not want Parliament to be disturbed and is likely to give a detailed explanation in the House with these details,” the source added.