If the Union Home Ministry accepts the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)’s proposal, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will be frisked at airports, stand in queues to check-in and go through all pre-embarkation security checks before boarding a domestic or international flight. They will also lose their privilege of taking their vehicles till the staircase of aircraft they travel within and outside the country.
The Gandhis, who lost their cover after the Parliament passed the SPG Amendment Bill, 2019 in December, aren’t permitted to drive till the aircraft stairs, but the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the BCAS have been informally allowing them to do so.
However, a mishap involving a former SPG protectee’s vehicle has turned the tables. Recently, a VIP’s car hit another vehicle parked on the tarmac, leading to airport security threatening to file an FIR.
Though the incident was settled amicably with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), BCAS asked CRPF to ensure that their protectees go through the normal security drill. BCAS believes that special privileges to the Gandhis was creating security and legal issues.
Withdrawal of SPG cover for the Gandhis had created apprehensions even in the Union Cabinet which discussed the issue. Sources suggest that there was also a division within the Cabinet over the move.
Currently, SPG cover is provided only to the Prime Minister. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, discussing the SPG Amendment Bill in Parliament, said that Narendra Modi would also lose his cover once he demitted office.