NEW DELHI: THE Congress party’s attempt to corner the government over the recent stone-throwing attack on Rahul Gandhi’s convoy in Gujarat was countered by the government in Lok Sabha on Tuesday with home minister Rajnath Singh questioning the Congress leader over ignoring the special protection group (SPG) security protocol.
Taking an apparent jibe at Rahul’s foreign tours, Rajnath said, in the last two years, he has been out on six foreign visits for 72 days and he did not take along his SPG cover on these occasions.
“Where did he go? He deliberately did not move with the SPG cover. It is violative of the SPG Act,” said Rajnath.
Giving further details about the tours of Rahul Gandhi, the home minister said that in the past two years, Rahul went on 121 planned and unplanned tours. He did not use the bulletproof car on 100 occasions. The offices of the Congress president and Rahul Gandhi were informed of the violations.
“Rahul went on foreign tours and informed the SPG at the eleventh hour, creating problems for it to provide proper security,” the minister said.
He said this while responding to the charge of Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge that last week’s stone pelting incident in Gujarat could have killed Rahul Gandhi. Rahul and party president Sonia Gandhi were not present in the house.
Following Rajnath’s remarks, Congress members trooped into the well with placards and were heard raising slogans like ‘Hitlershahi nahin chalegi’. The slogan shouting continued and frequent disruptions led to adjournment of the house.
Rajnath said the state police was informed about Rahul’s itinerary two days ahead of his visit.
“Rahul Gandhi is under SPG protection. The state police made adequate bandobast for the visit. He was even provided with a bullet-proof car…But, he opted for a non-bullet-resistant car. He should have taken the advice of security personnel,” said Rajnath.
He said the SPG personnel asked the SPG driver to drive Rahul’s car.
“The driver is trained in offensive and defensive attacks. Rahul Gandhi stopped many times to meet people, which were not part of the itinerary,” Rajnath added.