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Cong may redesign HQ for Sonia's safety

The structures housing the party office at 24 Akbar Road pose a security threat to Gandhi when she visits there.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2007 21:56 IST

The Congress party could redesign its party headquartersin New Delhito meet concerns expressed by security agencies over the safety of party president Sonia Gandhi.

"Nothing should affect the security of our party chief. Nothing will be allowed to affect it," Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said.

She, however, said no firm decision had been taken as yet to redesign the building.

Delhi Police sources confirmed that they had shot off a letter to Congress headquarters warning that the structures housing the party office - especially the constructions surrounding the main bungalow - at 24 Akbar Road pose a security threat to Gandhi when she visits there.

Congress sources admitted that the security agencies including the Special Protection Group (SPG) that provides security for Gandhi and her family had raised concerns over the safety of the party chief in the building.

"The Congress chief has decided to make regular visits to the party office. In fact she is likely to sit in her office room in this building twice a week," a Congress leadersaid.

The party leaders privately admitted that there could be a redesign of the building if the security agencies insist on it. "The party has to oblige the agencies when it comes to the safety of Sonia Gandhi," he said.

The staff at the 24 Akbar Road office recalled the kind of drill they had to go through whenever Gandhi decided to drop in at the office. "The SPG people used to come here and lock every room including Congress general secretaries' room. They had once locked even (Congress chief's political secretary) Ahamed Patel's room," a staff said.

However, they added that things have become better as her visits are more frequent.

There were also changes in the premises of the building. The party headquarters, which is adjacent to Gandhi's 10 Janpath residence, has a special entrance through which she can enter the premises without going to the main Akbar Road.

A passage had been built for Sonia Gandhi to walk down to the party headquarters cutting through the lawn. As her visits increased, potted plants came up on both sides of the passage to improve its aesthetics.

First Published: Jan 22, 2007 21:40 IST