Updated: July 2, 2020 5:43:17 am
Months after the withdrawal of SPG protection to the Gandhis, the Union Government on Wednesday issued an order for Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to vacate the bungalow allocated to her in Lutyens Bungalow Zone.
A notice sent by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs asked the Congress general secretary to vacate her government bungalow in Delhi by August 1. It said her allotment stands cancelled from Wednesday, and she owes Rs 3.46 lakh in dues to the government.
Priyanka and her family were allotted the Type 6B bungalow in 1997 as she was an SPG protectee.
“Consequent upon withdrawal of SPG protection and grant of Zplus security cover by Ministry of Home of Affairs, which does not have provision for allotment/retention of Government accommodation on security grounds to you, the allotment of Type 6B house no. 35 Lodhi Estate, New Delhi is hereby cancelled w.e.f 01/-07/2020. One month concessional period on the same rent ie upto 01.08.2020 is allowed as per rules,” the notice said.
It said that any stay beyond August 1 will “attract damage charges/penal rent as per rules”.
The Congress said the move showed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was unnerved by Priyanka’s political activities in Uttar Pradesh.
While Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the government was blinded by revenge and said the Congress would not be deterred by such notices, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh asked the government to withdraw the order in the interest of Priyanka’s safety.
In November last year, the government withdrew the SPG cover that was given to Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. The Home Ministry had said the decision was taken after “threat assessment”.
In December, Parliament passed the SPG (Amendment) Bill that limits SPG protection only to the Prime Minister and his family and to a former PM and his family for five years.
During the debate, Home Minister Amit Shah had rejected the Congress charge of “political vendetta” and said that three Gandhis had “flouted security rules around 600 times”. Congress’ Manish Tewari had said that a similar step by the V P Singh government had led to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
Following Wednesday’s notice, Congress leaders speculated that Priyanka, who is the party’s in-charge of UP, may shift base to Lucknow. “She has been trying hard, though unsuccessfully, to resurrect the Congress in UP. It is an opportunity to shift base to Lucknow to breath life into the Congress and establish herself as a leader,” a senior party leader said.
Surjewala said PM Modi’s and his government’s “blind rage and revenge against the Congress leadership is well known”. He said the government had withdrawn the SPG cover given to Nehru-Gandhi family members and former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda because they “continuously showed the mirror of truth of the anti-people policies to the government”.
“Now the Modi government has stooped even further. Whether it is Modi or UP CM Yogi Adityanath, they are deeply unnerved by the political activities and activism of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as also the Congress in UP bringing to light successive failures of the BJP government… Priyanka… will not be deterred by… such fruitless and wasteful exercises… and by your threats or your notices,” Surjewala said.
Singh said political differences cannot and should not be allowed to come in the way of ensuring fool-proof security and safety of any person, especially when that person belongs to a family that lost two members to terror attacks. He said that neither the withdrawal of Priyanka’s SPG cover nor the cancellation of her government accommodation was justifiable in the circumstances. Any compromise on Priyanka’s safety could be construed as a political witch-hunt, he said.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the move shows the BJP’s priorities. “Before evicting the Chinese intruders who have not only occupied strategic heights in Ladakh but also, killed our soldiers dastardly, evicting Priyanka Gandhi from her bungalow is more important. Instead of waging battle against Congress and Gandhi parivar, wage the battle against Corona and China,” he tweeted. —With ENS inputs
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