NEW DELHI: The Congress on Monday steered clear of reports that its leader Rahul Gandhi was travelling abroad ahead of assembly elections, saying personal liberty has always been respected in India's democratic tradition and personal matters should not be mixed with the public life of an individual.
Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra are being held on October 21.
The Congress also said that its leaders have not received communication with regard to any changes in rules for their SPG cover when abroad after reports claimed that the SPG would now accompany protectees even while they are out of the country.
"In India's democratic tradition, there is a difference between personal and public life and personal liberty has always been respected," Congress national secretary Pranav Jha told reporters when asked about Gandhi going abroad.
"Those who have tried to create a controversy over the issue or those people and institutions who are misusing their powers to make public the personal visits of some leaders should respect personal liberty," Jha added.
The BJP has been attacking Gandhi and raised questions over reports of his visit abroad at a time when two key states are going to the polls.
"The personal should not be mixed with the public life of an individual," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said on Twitter while defending the former party president.
Asked about reports claiming changes in rules of SPG cover for leaders like Rahul Gandhi when abroad, Jha asked whether the government was trying to spy on their leaders.
"Since this is a matter relating to security, we will not offer any comment based on a news report that appeared in a newspaper.
We will respond as and when our leaders receive any official communication from the government in this regard," Jha said.