CONGRESS president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka have not used bullet-resistent (BR) vehicles on hundreds of occasions over the years and did not take SPG commandos along with them on most of their foreign travels, officials said on Friday.
The disclosure by security agencies came after the government decided to withdraw the Special Protection Group (SPG) security cover of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Priyanka after a detailed assessment of their threat perception.
Giving details of alleged non-cooperation of the three Gandhi family members with the SPG, a security official said such an attitude of protectees impede the smooth functioning of the force’s personnel.
Referring to Rahul Gandhi, the official said, during 2005-2014, the Congress leader had travelled in non-BR vehicles on 18 visits to different parts of the country.
Since 2015, there have been 1,892 occasions (till May 2019) when Rahul Gandhi travelled in a non-BR vehicle in Delhi, which amounts to about one trip a day.
Besides, on 247 occasions (till June 2019), he travelled in a non-BR vehicle outside Delhi.
The former Congress president even travelled on roof of vehicles on a few occasions during domestic tours in violation of provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act and security advices.
During his visit to Banaskantha in Gujarat on August 4, 2017, when Rahul Gandhi was travelling in a non-BR car, there was an incident of stone pelting in which an SPG PSO was injured.
The injury could have been avoided, had Rahul Gandhi used the SPG BR vehicle, the official said.
This matter was raised by the Congress in Parliament and the then Union home minister Rajnath Singh had made a statement in Lok Sabha wherein it was informed that Rahul Gandhi did not avail SPG BR vehicles on 100 occasions out of his 121 visits between April 2015 to June 2017 within the country.
Out of the total 156 foreign visits that Rahul Gandhi undertook since 1991, he did not take SPG officers on 143 visits.
In most of these 143 foreign visits, he shared the travel itinerary at the eleventh hour, preventing SPG officers from accompanying him on the tours.
Rahul Gandhi also dragged the name of the SPG on a few occasions in the last five years in his public speeches, which is undesirable, another official said.
Referring to Sonia Gandhi, the official said she did not use SPG BR vehicle on 50 occasions, while travelling in Delhi from 2015 to May 2019.
On all but one of these occasions, Rahul Gandi himself drove her non-BR car.
She also undertook 13 unscheduled visits to various places in the country in the last five years (till May 2019) during which she used non-BR cars.
The Congress president also did not take SPG officers on 24 of her foreign visits since 2015.
On Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the official said since 2015, till May 2019, she did not use SPG BR vehicles for her travel on 339 occasions within Delhi and 64 occasions at other places in the country.
Priyanka Gandhi used non-BR vehicles against the advice of SPG officers on these visits.
Out of the total 99 foreign visits that Priyanka Gandhi has undertaken since 1991, she took SPG security cover only on 21 occasions and refused to take the security for other 78 visits.
On most of these tours, Priyanka Gandhi shared her travel plan at the eleventh hour rendering it impossible for SPG to depute officers for her security.
Since May 2014, on several occasions, she had reportedly levelled allegations against SPG officers that they were collecting her personal and confidential information and sharing with unauthorised persons. She even allegedly threatened top officials of the SPG with legal action.
The SPG has from time to time countered such allegations by clarifying that it confines its work to strictly the official charter, the official said.