The Gandhi family will no longer be driven around in bulletproof Range Rover SUVs but will have to shift to a lot humbler, non-bulletproof Tata Safaris that are nearly 10 years old, reports NDTV. This big change in security detail comes as the Indian government has downgraded the security offered to Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi from Z-Plus to Z category. This means that the vehicles they had been allotted as Z-Plus protectees will also be withdrawn.
The Gandhis will now be protected by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, and the elite Special Protection Group (SPG) who used to protect them previously have now been withdrawn from their security detail. A similar exercise took place with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well, whose security detail has been downgraded to Z category from Z-Plus category. However, Dr. Singh was allowed to retain use of an armoured BMW 7-Series luxury saloon.
The CRPF has requested the SPG to grant back access to the armoured Range Rovers and Toyota Fortuners for use by the Gandhis. So far, there hasn’t been any response from the SPG on this request. The sharp cutback on security detail to the Gandhis have led to loud protests in the Parliament, with the Congress party staging a walkout earlier today.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in the lower house had this to say,
Sonia Gandhi ji and Rahul Gandhi ji are not normal protectees. Vajpayee ji had allowed Special Protection Group protection for the Gandhi family. From 1991-2019, NDA came to power twice but their SPG cover was never removed.
The high-end Range Rover SUVs that were allotted to Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi were heavily armored against multiple weapons and could also withstand grenade attacks. Rahul Gandhi used to have a similarly armored Toyota Fortuner SUV. What remains to be seen is whether the Tata Safari SUVs of 2010 vintage, that have been allotted to the Gandhis, are armoured.
If they’re not armoured, they’ll be no different from the Safari 2.2 that you and me can buy from the used car market now that Tata Motors has officially discontinued this SUV. The Safari 2.2 is powered by 2.2 liter turbocharged diesel engine that make 140 Bhp-320 Nm. A five speed manual gearbox is standard. The SUV gets both rear wheel drive and four wheel drive layouts depending on the variant chosen. The Safari has been replaced by the Safari Storme, which continues to be on sale presently but could soon be discontinues once the BS6 norms come into place.