New Delhi: Congress party on Wednesday said the order asking Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to vacate her government accommodation in Lutyens' Delhi within a month shows the ‘vengeance’ that union government has towards its leadership. The order was subsequent to withdrawal of her special protection group (SPG) protection in November after which she was allotted Z+ security cover by the union home ministry.
“BJP and Modi government’s blind hatred and a sense of vengeance against Congress leadership is well known. Now they have resorted to petty tricks and gimmicks. The notice to vacate Priyanka's house shows the uneasiness of Modiji-Yogiji. We are not afraid of the frustrated decisions of the frustrated government," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala posted on Twitter. In a video statement, Surjewala added that the Congress was ‘not afraid’ of such notices and the union government could vacate as many residences it wanted.
The ministry of housing and urban affairs sent a letter to Vadra, also daughter of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, explaining the one month notice and how with the removal of SPG protection, the provision of government accommodation no longer exists.
"Consequent upon withdrawal of SPG protection and grant of Z+ security cover by the ministry of home affairs, which does not have provision for allotment/retention of government accommodation on security grounds to you….," the letter dated Wednesday said. “One month concessional period on the same rent i e. upto 01.08 2020 is allowed as per rules. It is, therefore, advised to vacate the house on or before 01/08/2020," it added.
However, many senior leaders have flagged that the union government should revoke its order. Taking a strong exception to the move, veteran Congress leader and Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh issued a statement saying that both decisions on government accommodation and SPG cover should be revoked in the view of the ‘threat perception’ she has as a member of Gandhi family. “Political considerations and differences cannot and should not be allowed to come in the way of ensuring fool-proof security and safety of any person, especially when that persons belongs to a family that had lost two members to terror attacks," a release from Singh’s office quoted him as saying.
Vadra made official plunge into politics in January last year, in the walk up to the general elections, when she was appointed as the general secretary incharge of Uttar Pradesh (East). In his statement, Singh added that Vadra has been vocal against the state government’s handling of the covid-19 pandemic and so the timing of the order could be construed as a political witch-hunt.
“Center government should immediately withdraw its decision and reconsider it. Government should not play with safety and security of Gandhi Vadra family. @priyankagandhiji is the daughter of Gandhi family who gave us two PM and both of them sacrificed their lives in service of the nation," senior Congress leader and Maharashtra minister Nitin Raut posted on Twitter.
Vadra’s official residence is currently at 35, Lodhi Estate. “The order is in accordance with the rules followed after SPG cover is withdrawn. It is following the rules that are pre-set and it is not against a specific person," an official in the ministry of housing and urban affairs said.