The Narendra Modi government has withdrawn the no-frisking privilege accorded to Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, at airports across the country.
“The minister (Ashok Gajapati Raju) on Tuesday evening approved revoking of no-frisking privileges to Vadra. The orders will now be sent to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security for further action,” said a senior civil aviation ministry official, who did not want to be identified.
Vadra is on a list of 33 categories of people who are exempted from pre-embarkation security checks at civilian airports in the country. The privilege is available only when he travels with those who are given cover by the Special Protection Group, which includes his wife Priyanka Gandhi, mother-in-law Sonia Gandhi and brother-in-law Rahul Gandhi.
The decision to remove Vadra’s name from the list came after the home ministry’s approval, the official said. The civil aviation ministry had asked the home ministry in October to carry out a threat perception check of the categories of exempted people and sought its views on pruning the list.
The home ministry replied with its approval on removing Vadra’s name from the list during the second week of July. ET first reported the home ministry’s consent on August 21.
Vadra had challenged the government to abrogate his no-frisking privilege and even engaged in a war of words with the civil aviation ministers. Vadra indicated his willingness to be taken off the list in a Facebook post in August and subsequently.
“Plan 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,” Vadra said in his most recent posting on Facebook on Monday.
Vadra should have raised the issue during the previous regime (UPA government), which had given him such a privilege, Raju said on Tuesday. “I wish he did when there was another type of government when he got those privileges. Had he any guts and what you call other things in him, that was the time to raise it,” Raju said.
The minister added: “If you look at Vadra, is it an issue? How does it serve the Indian citizen? What’s so special about the guy that we should specially treat him? I don’t think there is anything special.”
Apart from the removal of Vadra’s name, the no-frisking list will remain the same, the official said. The exemptions are for the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Union cabinet ministers, opposition leaders, Supreme Court judges, high court chief justices, chief ministers and their deputies, governors and ambassadors. Those given cover by the Special Protection Group are also exempted.