An anonymous death threat to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi triggered concern about his safety on Monday as a UPA-era move to upgrade his security was buried after the NDA came to power in 2014.
The Puducherry unit of the party received an unsigned letter, which says the 45-year-old Congress leader will be killed at an election meeting the way his father was assassinated in 1991.
Rahul Gandhi is protected by the special protection group (SPG) along with his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
The previous Congress-led UPA government had reportedly sought to raise his security detail to almost the level reserved for the prime minister. It was done after intelligence agencies moved a file for his security upgrade as Gandhi was travelling across the country during the 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign.
“There are two levels of SPG protection, one for the PM and another for former PMs and their family members. When the UPA government was in its last months, the security establishment was asked to include Rahul Gandhi in the top tier,” a senior official said.
But the NDA government never took it up, sources told Hindustan Times.
It could not be verified why no decision was taken on that initiative. Home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi did not respond to text messages and phone calls. His predecessor Anil Goswami said: “Look, I am not in office now (he was removed in February 2015). I don’t remember anything.”
A Congress delegation led by senior leaders Ahmed Patel and Motilal Vora asked home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday to beef up Gandhi’s security after the May 5 threat letter. Singh assured prompt action and security enhancement.
The party’s Puducherry leader V Narayansamy received the letter, which says: “Your party is responsible for closure of industries in Puducherry. We will attack you and your former Prime Minister’s son and be blasted (sic) while attending a meeting.”
Gandhi’s father, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber during a public rally at Sriperumbudur near Chennai in Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991.
“In some recent security reviews, it was found that there were occasions when inadequate personnel were deployed for peripheral security during Rahul Gandhi’s public programmes. Instructions were then issued to make adequate arrangements,” an official said.