Earlier today, Home Minister Rajnath Singh was questioned about lack of security provided to Rahul Gandhi when he carried out his disaster tourism in Gujarat after the floods. This was countered by Home Minister by saying that Gandhi was provided bullet proof car, but he refused. And not just in Gujarat, he had violated security protocol on several occasions in India and abroad.
Singh said that out of 121 total planned and unplanned visits the Congress Vice President had undertaken in past two years, he has not used bullet proof car (as provided under protocol) for around a hundred occasions. He further alleged that while travelling abroad, Gandhi sometimes informs the SPG (Special Protection Group) at the last moment, owing to which proper security arrangement cannot be done for him in time.
Singh intensified his attack on Gandhi and said that in last two yeas, Gandhi has been on 6 foreign tours spread over total 72 days where he did not take along his SPG cover.
“Where did he go? He deliberately did not move with the SPG cover. It is violative of the SPG Act enacted by Parliament,” Singh told the Lok Sabha alleging Gandhi neglected his own security.
“What does he want to hide by not taking the SPG along, the nation and the House want to know,” Singh further questioned. He repeated his query later on Twitter too:
We want to know why didn’t Shri Rahul Gandhi take SPG cover on several foreign trips? What is he trying to hide? #HMinParliament
— HMO India (@HMOIndia) August 8, 2017
Records show that there is indeed no information of Rahul Gandhi’s foreign visits available anywhere and they are almost secretive when it comes to details. In fact, not just Rahul, even Sonia Gandhi’s foreign visits are very mysterious, with no political clearance sought from the Ministry of External Affairs.
According to a book “Journalism Through RTI”, journalist Shyamlal Yadav says that the Lok Sabha Secretariat has informed that both Ms Gandhi and her son were never part of any Parliamentary delegation to foreign countries from 2004 to 2012, therefore political clearance for them was never sought from the Ministry of External Affairs. It is still unclear whether there was any ‘exemption’ for SPG protectees from getting the MEA clearance.
Yadav further elaborates that the information regarding overseas travel by the top Congress leaders “does not form part of records held by the PMO”. However, the PMO had said that between July 14 to 17, 2004, Ms Gandhi had visited Bangkok to attend a conference on AIDS.
As it turns out, even in during 14th and 15th Lok Sabha i.e. under the UPA governments, there was no information available on the foreign trips by Gandhis with the Lok Sabha secretariat. In response to an RTI query filed by media house India Today in 2011, Deputy Secretary of Lok Sabha had stated, “This secretariat attends to work relating to official visits of Indian parliamentary delegations going abroad and maintains record of foreign travel of members of the Lok Sabha in their personal capacity if such travel is intimated by them to the Speaker’s office.” India Today filed another RTI query specifically asking how many intimations/requests the Lok Sabha secretariat received regarding the foreign travels of Sonia and Rahul during the 14th and 15th Lok Sabhas. The response of K. Sona, under secretary, Lok Sabha, on July 4 was: Nil.”
Why so much secrecy for someone who is a representative of people and aspires to be the Prime Minister of India?