NEW DELHI, 31 May-2014, TNN: Priyanka Gandhi has urged the government to withdraw her family’s security exemptions at airports, a day after reports that the government may take her husband Robert Vadra off the no-frisk protocol that he enjoys as part of the Gandhi family.
In a letter to the chief of Special Protection Group, Priyanka said, “Since the government is now reportedly considering the removal of his (Vadra) name, I would like to inform you that I do not feel it will be correct for my children and me to avail of the facility of exemption of these checks while entering or exiting the airport when we are all travelling together.”
The issue pertains to Vadra being exempt from frisking because of his association with the Gandhi family which is a SPG protectee. However, the privilege is only when he is travelling with the family and has to undergo normal checks when he travels alone.
Priyanka’s letter suggests that she has sought withdrawal of exemption when the family is travelling together. “It is only right for us to go through the normal channel at the airport and be frisked etc… as you will appreciate that it makes no sense for a family travelling together to fall under different categories of exemption,” she said.
In a bid to underline that the exemption to her husband was not part of any privilege the family had sought but imposed on them on security grounds, Priyanka said, “His inclusion on that list came about at the instance of your predecessors in the SPG/Delhi Police and not upon any request by either of us who were informed after the fact. It was done ostensibly to facilitate the coordination of the two separate agencies at the airport when we travelled together.”
The stress appears designed to quell the BJP’s campaign to make an example of the Gandhi family’s son-in-law as a privileged individual under the Congress government. Vadra has been a key part of BJP’s attack on Congress, with Narendra Modi raking up the alleged irregular land allotments by Congress-ruled states to him as a sign of corruption in the first family.
While stressing that the privilege to Vadra was imposed by police, Priyanka said it had become a source of constant embarrassment for her husband who had repeatedly asked her to get it withdrawn. “I had verbally conveyed this to the previous director and the AIG, SPG in charge of my security detail on a number of occasions but no action was ever taken on it,” she said.
She also requested the SPG chief that her security detail at airports be discreet and unobtrusive. “Request you to ensure that when we are entering or exiting boarding gates, there is no disturbance to passengers… Request security detail to behave in a manner that is discreet and strictly unobtrusive,” the letter said.