Taking exception to the alleged violation of security norms by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi during his two-day visit to Uttar Pradesh, the Mayawati government on Tuesday said that in future the Centre would be held responsible for any mishap caused by such breach.
The reaction came after Mr. Gandhi denied earlier in the day that security rules were breached when his helicopter landed at Sitapur on Monday. The pilot was the last person to underestimate the dangers of flying in bad weather, he said.
Never once had he violated security rules, Mr. Gandhi said.
In a letter to the Union Home Ministry, the U.P. Principal Secretary (Home) objected to the Centre’s delay in sending information about the visit of Mr. Gandhi, who comes under SPG cover, to Etah and Sitapur, and also to the random changes in itinerary made by the SPG.
Briefing journalists here, Additional Cabinet Secretary Vijay Shankar Pandey said the information about the advanced security liaison for Mr. Gandhi’s tour from December 7 was sent only on the night of December 6. This created problems for the State in ensuring timely security measures.
On Monday Mr. Gandhi abandoned a bulletproof vehicle at Etah, preferring a party car to reach the helipad where he interacted with people along barricades, Mr. Pandey said. The same day, Mr. Gandhi’s helicopter landed at Sitapur when visibility was poor. Again, violating security norms, he drove down to Hardoi in a Toyota, abandoning the bulletproof vehicle.
Mr. Pandey recalled that following the alleged breach of security norms by Mr. Gandhi and the SPG when he visited Lucknow unannounced on September 23 this year, the Chief Minister wrote to the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister on September 25, urging that prior and timely information about the visit of those covered by the SPG be sent to the State government.
Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, Mr. Gandhi said visibility was good when his helicopter landed at Sitapur. Affirming that he had never violated security norms, he said the SPG Director was fully aware of his adherence.
When he was told that the statement on the alleged security breach was attributed to Pradesh Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Mr. Gandhi said she was not an expert on weather.