Priyanka Gandhi told to vacate govt bungalow as SPG protection withdrawn

Bungalow bye bye

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on Wednesday cancelled Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s (pictured) entitlement to a government bungalow. In a letter, the ministry asked the Congress general secretary to vacate her ‘type 6B’ bungalow by August 1 as she is no longer entitled to an SPG protection. If she overstays, she will need to pay penalty and market rent for the bungalow located at 35, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi. Last November, the SPG cover to Vadra, her brother and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, and their mother, party president Sonia Gandhi, was withdrawn. This came after Parliament amended the SPG Act to restrict the special security cover to the serving prime minister and his predecessors for a period of five years after demitting office. Sonia and Rahul are Lok Sabha members and hence entitled to government bungalows, while Priyanka is not an MP.

Open field in MP

Jyotiraditya Scindhia's exit appears to have led to a leadership vacuum in Madhya Pradesh Congress. Veteran leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh are in hot water — with the former under the scanner over his nephew Ratul Puri and his business dealings and the latter's wings trimmed for overplaying his hand in the short-lived Congress government in the state. Despite trying his best, Nath could not leverage his position to place his acolytes at the helm of various state boards and institutions; Singh, on the other hand, filled up key positions with his ardent followers. Some say Singh accelerated the process of Scindia's exit from the party to create space for his son Jayvardhan. But the Raghogarh MLA still lacks the charisma or popular support among party heavyweights. Pretty much an open field in MP at the moment.

Subdued celebrations

Come July and there is buzz around the annual Independence Day celebrations in the capital. This year, however, the pandemic is likely to cast a shadow on the Red Fort event, if police sources are to be believed. Delhi Police officers said that not only will social distancing measures be followed strictly in the VIP gallaries (read fewer invitees and all sitting at a fair distance from each other) but the public area will be similarly decongested to avoid spread of the virus. The performances featuring school children will also be given a miss in the 2020 edition of the event. There is speculation that the Prime Minister may deliver a much shorter speech this time. In the past month or so, there has been a major spike in Covid-19 cases in Delhi.

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