Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was on Wednesday directed to vacate her 35 Lodhi Estate bungalow in the Lutyens’ Zone within a month as the government had withdrawn her SPG cover.
An order issued by the housing and urban affairs ministry asked Ms Vadra to vacate her bungalow on or before August 1, failing which “it will attract damage charges/penal rent as per rules”.
The SPG cover of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka had been replaced with Z-plus CRPF security in November 2019. Ms Vadra, a private citizen, was allotted the Type VI house in February 1997 for security reasons on the recommendation of the SPG, home ministry and Cabinet Secretariat as SPG protectees needed an independent bungalow of certain specifications. With her SPG cover gone, Ms Vadra was asked to vacate her house.
The Narendra Modi government changed the allotment rules in 2015 and made only SPG protectees eligible for government accommodation. Before that, even those with Z-plus security were entitled to such accommodation.
Vadra joined politics shortly before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and became AICC general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party does not fear from such notices and will continue to highlight the "wrong-doings of a failed Modi government".
"PM Narendra Modi and his Government are blinded by rage, hatred and revenge against the Congress leadership. Unnerved by political activism of Priyanka ji in UP, Modi Government has stooped even further by issuing house vacation notice. Such frustrated attempts will not deter us," he tweeted.
He said Priyanka Gandhi has also been highlighting the failures of the UP government.
"Priyanka Gandhi is Indira Gandhi's grand-daughter and neither she nor the Congress leadership will be cowed down by such notices," Surjewala said
The Congress had reacted sharply to the withdrawal of SPG cover to the Gandhi family and had even raised the issue in Parliament.
Senior party leader and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Wednesday that the the Union Government should withdraw the cancellation order in the interest of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's security and safety.
All India Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev said that the government, consciously, had issued the notice.
"I have to say that there was a time when the rumours were going around that Priyanka will be a Rajya Sabha MP and was one of the reasons she wanted to stay in her bungalow. But she proved all those speculations wrong, said Dev.
"Let us not forget that she did not take a bungalow with any sense of entitlement, she took it because of security reasons. I believe that she has never taken undue advantage of any situation, " Dev added.
Congress leader Rajiv Shukla said, "House was allotted to them because of security reasons, they had received massive threats."
"After Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi incident, you can see they were facing severe threats. As a result, the house was allotted to them, " Shukla added.
Another Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said in a tweet, "BJP party's priority list. Before evicting the Chinese intruders who have not only occupied strategic heights in Ladakh but also, killed our soldiers dastardly, evicting Priyanka Gandhi from her bungalow is more important."