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Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka set to lose airport privilege

February 13, 2020 08:35 IST
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Three months after the Modi government withdrew SPG cover to Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, they are all set to lose another special status provided to them.
R Rajagopalan reports.

IMAGE: Priyanka, Rahul and Sonia Gandhi. Photograph: ANI Photo

Like the rest of us, Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi will soon have to stand in queue at airports to board flights after going through the regular security drill.

Three months after the Narendra Damodardas Modi government withdrew the Special Protection Group cover to the Gandhis, they are all set to lose the special status provided to them -- of their car driving up to the staircase of the aircraft after bypassing the security check and boarding process.

This follows the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security flagging the Union home ministry the issue of former SPG protectees being allowed to drive up to the aircraft when the security drill of the Central Reserve Police Force and Central Industrial Security Force, which currently guards them, does not allow for this privilege.

Even after the withdrawal of their SPG cover, the Airports Authority of India and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security have been informally allowing the Gandhis to drive up to the aircraft, but when a vehicle of a former SPG protectee recently collided with another car near the aircraft, the airport security threatened to file an FIR.

Matters were sorted with the CRPF backing off, but the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security decided to ask the CRPF to ensure that their protectees submit themselves to the security drill.

Also, while Union ministers, the Chief Justice of India, former prime ministers and members of Parliament are subject to regular security drills before emplaning, the special status accorded to the three Gandhis was creating security and legal issues, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security decided, and decided to flag the Union home ministry its concerns.

If the home ministry, headed by Amit Anilchandra Shah, accept the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security proposal, the Gandhis will have to go through airport security and stand in queue with others passengers to board domestic or international flights.

When the proposal to withdraw SPG cover to the Gandhis was being discussed in the Union Cabinet there were apprehensions and divisions over the move, before it agreed to have the SPG guard only the incumbent prime minister and his family.

Shah argued in Parliament that even Modi will not get SPG cover after he demits office, before the House gave its approval to divest the Gandhis of special security cover.

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