Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused the Centre on Saturday of using different security protocols for BJP leaders and for him, noting that the current regime wants him to undertake the “Bharat Jodo Yatra” in a bulletproof vehicle, which is not acceptable to him.
Replying to a reporter’s question that he was breaking security protocols during the foot march, Gandhi said it seems the government wants to make out a case against him that he keeps flouting security norms.
“I am undertaking the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the government wants me to do it in a bulletproof vehicle. They say it is protocol and I should not trouble them. They want me to travel from Kanyakumari to Kashmir in a bulletproof car, which is not acceptable to me. How can I sit in a bulletproof vehicle in this yatra?” he asked.
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The former Congress chief said when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders take out roadshows, they do not use bulletproof cars and the government does not write to them regarding any violation of security protocols.
“They have undertaken roadshows in open vehicles, which is against the protocol. How can there be a different protocol for me and for BJP leaders? The CRPF and other senior officers know what is important for my security. You tell me, how can I travel in a bulletproof vehicle? In the Bharat Jodo Yatra, one has to walk. So I do not understand what do they mean. Probably, they are making a case that I keep breaking security protocols. Let them make a case,” he said.
On him wearing a T-shirt in Delhi in December, Gandhi asked, “Why are you getting disturbed if I am wearing a T-shirt? You want me to wear a sweater?” “Why are these people so disturbed? I will put out a video on how to walk in a T-shirt and how to confront cold. I will make it for you,” he added.
Gandhi told reporters that if they are wearing sweaters, it means they are scared of the cold. “It does not mean it is cold, but you are scared of the cold. I am not scared of the cold. To tell you seriously, I am not feeling cold. When I feel cold, I will start wearing a sweater,” he said.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary KC Venugopal wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah on December 29, saying no action was taken on a complaint from his party regarding the entry of unauthorised vigilance sleuths from Haryana into the Bharat Jodo Yatra containers.
“As far as the Delhi leg of the yatra is concerned, there were two significant issues — both related to the utter lack of collaboration between the police and CRPF,” Venugopal said.
He added that in Badarpur and at the Red Fort, Gandhi was directed away from the entry passage towards the crowd and it had exposed him to an extremely unprotected area, causing a lot of confusion and commotion.
“We regret to point out that our previous letter was addressed to the home minister, in whose judgment we had placed our trust, but instead, we received a reply from the very agency against which we are raising concerns. This is unacceptable since it does not solve our issues but compounds them in more ways than one,” Venugopal told Shah.
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He had earlier written to the home minister for ensuring proper security to Gandhi and the other Bharat Jodo Yatra participants, while alleging several breaches in the former Congress chief’s security in Delhi.
Venugopal had also noted that there were multiple instances where unidentified people got very close to Gandhi and that videos and photographic proof of the same can be shared.
“In Delhi, the rope area which demarcates the protection of Shri Gandhi and other leaders was compromised many times because the Delhi Police failed to maintain its sanctity. This happened because even after requests from our end to Delhi Police to visit the previous state of Haryana for an ASL meeting — to discuss and learn from their experience — no Delhi Police personnel came for the said meeting.
“The yatra is an unprecedented event and there are no set rules. The rules and patterns are evolving as we go along and so far, all state police teams have met the earlier state police teams to exchange notes for a foolproof system. The Delhi Police casually overlooked this norm,” he had said.
“But, in the true spirit of Bharat Jodo, we will move forward in faith that such security breaches will not be repeated in the future, that you will assist us in spreading the message of unity and brotherhood as we enter the sensitive states of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir,” Venugopal had written to Shah.