Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, will now have to undergo security checks at airports with the government on Wednesday dropping his no-frisking privileges after his frequent barbs over the issue on social media.
Till now, 46-year-old Vadra, businessman husband of Priyanka Gandhi, an SPG protectee, was exempted from frisking at airports when he travelled with an SPG protectee.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said, “The previous government gave Vadra the facility only when he was travelling with an SPG protectee. Now, he has himself asked to be removed from the list.”
“The government has revised the list of no-frisking passengers at the domestic airports, and Vadra’s name is not on it,” a civil aviation ministry spokesperson said.
“Fantastic. I am happy with what they have done,” Vadra reacted after the aviation ministry’s orders.
He later went on Facebook to comment: “I appreciate that my name will not appear in the VVIP list anymore. I hope this is a dead issue now and will not be used against me. My Best wishes.”
Two days ago, Vadra had used another Facebook post to convey that he wanted to be off the list of VIPs exempt from frisking at airports.
“Plans to visit every terminal in the Airports in India and add a white tape on my name from the VVIP list and my signature on top !! So look out ….” he had posted.
The exclusion of Vadra’s name from the list came a day after civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said that the Government was in the process of doing so.
The no-frisking privilege is granted to constitutional figures and those who have elite Special Protection Group (SPG) cover, including Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi—the two top leaders of the Congress party—and her daughter Priyanka. They are spared security checks that every other passenger has to go through at airports.
BJP has repeatedly targeted Vadra over controversial land deals and accused him of abusing VIP security privileges granted to his wife.
Last week, Government had said that there were no plans to remove his name from the VIP list, prompting Vadra to allege that there was a ‘conspiracy to malign his image’.
“This is something Priyanka had herself asked for, Vadra had asked for… This is essentially an issue because of SPG rule book,” Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said, adding, “No one in the Congress or Vadra family or Gandhi family wanted it.”
Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said Vadra had pointedly declined to be included in the ‘no-frisking list’ and had emphatically requested the government to remove his name.
“By issuing an order in hindsight, Modi government is attempting to create an issue out of non-issue for malicious reasons,” he added.