Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has tweeted a 'thank you' note for the Special Protection Group (SPG) after the centre decided to withdraw the elite security cover provided to him and his family 28 years ago. He expressed his gratitude to the force for "tirelessly" protecting the Gandhi family.
"A big thank you to all my brothers & sisters in the SPG who worked tirelessly to protect me & my family over the years. Thank you for your dedication, your constant support & for a journey filled with affection & learning. It has been a privilege. All the best for a great future," Mr Gandhi said.
A big thank you to all my brothers & sisters in the SPG who worked tirelessly to protect me & my family over the years. Thank you for your dedication, your constant support & for a journey filled with affection & learning. It has been a privilege. All the best for a great future.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 8, 2019
The SPG was set up in 1985, a year after the assassination of Mr Gandhi's grandmother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The force was tasked with protecting the prime ministers.
After the assassination of Mr Gandhi's father, former PM Rajiv Gandhi, the SPG protection was extended to the entire family in 1991.
Sources close to the Gandhis say they were not informed and found out from media reports.
The decision was taken after a security review recently, said government sources. Government sources referred to instances when the Gandhis "did not cooperate and impeded the smooth functioning of the SPG".
The Congress has slammed the centre's decision, calling it "political vendetta".
"They are playing with the lives of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. On what basis did they do this," Congress leader KC Venugopal was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are blinded by personal revenge and political vendetta in withdrawing SPG cover from Gandhis," he added.
The centre has provided them Z Plus security, which means each member of the Gandhi family will be guarded by around 100 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
The centre had withdrawn the SPG protection of former PM Manmohan Singh last year.
The SPG, an elite force of 3,000, are now tasked with protecting only Prime Minister Narendra Modi.