Cong, BJP Spar Over PM's 'Security Breach'; 'Cheap Theatricals', Says Punjab CM
"The news about him saying that he survived makes it clear that it was a stunt," Tikait alleged.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Punjab found itself at the centre of a controversy on Wednesday, 5 December, after his rally at Ferozepur was cancelled, the reasons for which were termed "a major lapse in the PM's security" by many BJP leaders.
During his visit to the state, Modi was to lay the foundation stones of multiple development projects worth over Rs 42,750 crore as well as address the rally.
After Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya declared on stage that the programme was postponed, the Ministry of Home Affairs indicated that a security lapse had hampered the PM's plans.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, however, took a dig at PM Modi, describing the incident as a ‘cheap stunt to gain sympathy’, while the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) expressed that videos of the incident clearly indicate that the alleged 'threat to PM's life' seems completely concocted.
The Congress also disputed the BJP's security-related allegations.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, on his part, expressed regret over the PM's sudden exit from Ferozepur, but also said:
"If PM has said something out of anger or due to politics, I won't comment on it. But I will say one thing, you're our PM. As a Punjabi I would lay down my life to protect you. But there was no danger to his (PM Modi's) life."
Here are the accusations and contentions made by the parties involved:
What the MHA and BJP Claimed
In a statement, the MHA declared that around 30 km away from the National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala, the PM’s convoy, which was on a flyover, couldn't proceed further as the road was blocked by some protesters.
As per reports, the protesters, belonging to Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee (KMSC), were staging a demonstration against the PM's visit.
"The PM was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of the PM," the statement read.
The press release stated further:
"The MHA has taken cognisance of this serious security lapse and has sought a detailed report from the state government. The state government has also been asked to fix responsibility for this lapse and take strict action."
Condemning the alleged obstruction of PM Modi's route in Punjab, BJP President JP Nadda cast aspersions on the state government officials and the police, accusing them of "high-handedness" and "connivance with the protesters".
"To make matters worse, CM Channi refused to get on the phone to either address the matter or solve it. The tactics used by the Congress government in Punjab would pain anyone who believes in democratic principles," Nadda added.
Amit Shah, Smriti Irani Throw Barbs at Congress
Meanwhile, Union Minister Smriti Irani accused the Congress of wanting to harm Modi, and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma termed the alleged obstruction a "matter of shame".
"While the PM is going all out to ensure a holistic development of Punjab, today's incident shows how the Congress is least interested in development and only wants to play politics. Such a security breach in the crucial border state must be enquired at the highest levels," Sarma added.
He also spoke on the matter on Thursday and added that several BJP workers and the public of Assam have performed the Maha Mrityunjaya, and prayed for PM Modi's long life.
The politician, making audacious accusations, claimed, "The way they (Congress) tried to murder the PM has exposed the mentality of the party before the people of India."
On Thursday, Iran said further, "People celebrating the security breach of PM Narendra Modi for the last 24 hours have woken up perforce. This late political awakening was seeing the country's anger on how Punjab Congress endangered the PM's visit."
Home Minister Amit Shah had earlier reiterated the allegations of the party and tweeted:
"Today's Congress-made happening in Punjab is a trailer of how this party thinks and functions. Repeated rejections by the people have taken them to the path of insanity."
He asserted that 'the topmost echelons of the Congress owe an apology to the people of India' for the incident.
Vice President of India (VP) Venkaiah Naidu also took to Twitter to express "deep concerns" over the matter.
"Vice President of India, Shri. M.Venkaiah Naidu today spoke to the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi about the security lapse during PM's visit to Punjab yesterday. He expressed his deep concern at the security breach and hoped that stringent steps will be taken to scrupulously adhere to established security protocol and ensure such a situation doesn’t recur in future (sic)," the VP's office said.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said on Thursday, 6 October:
"There was a big lapse in the security of the prime minister yesterday in Punjab. On this matter, some people have gone to the Supreme Court, the Home Ministry has also sought a report. The judicial system of the country gives justice to all," he said, as per ANI.
'Congress Put Modi's Life At Risk'
Bengaluru MP and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM)'s National President Tejasvi Surya on Friday, 7 January, accused the Congress party in Punjab for failing to provide adequate security to the Prime Minister.
He said, "The Congress government there had been opposing the Prime Minister and they did the same thing during the PM’s visit to Punjab. The state government put PM Modi’s life at a risk,” as per Indian Express.
'Political Drama Over Flop Show': What Congress Said
Disputing the accusations, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the BJP had created a 'political drama' over the 'so-called' breach in Modi's security.
"We reject the charge, completely and comprehensively," he asserted.
In a series of posts on Twitter, the Congress leader indicated that thousands of security personnel were deployed for the rally, and all arrangements with Special Protection Group and other agencies, were made for the safety of the PM.
The spokesperson added:
"Finally, the reason for cancelling rally is that there were no crowds to listen to Modi-ji. Stop the blame game and introspect on BJP’s anti-farmer attitude. Hold rallies but listen to the farmers first."
Corroborating his claim, he tweeted a video of empty chairs from the venue of the rally and wrote, "The people of Punjab have shown a mirror to the arrogant power by keeping a distance from the rally."
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said that there was no threat to the PM's life and that he was forced to cancel the programme due to less number of number attending the rally, as per the PTI report.
In response to the Opposition's jabs at lax security for the Prime Minister, Channi alleged on Friday, 7 January, that the PM's "life threat gimmick" was aimed at "toppling a democratically elected government" in the State. He urged Modi not to indulge in 'cheap theatricals' and "stop defaming the state and its people for vested political interests".
"The security of PM is governed by an active Parliament. There is a very well laid out procedure as to how the PM and his immediate family has to be secured. If there has been a security lapse, it should be investigated by a sitting judge of the high court," Congress MP Manish Tewari said.
While raising concerns over the lapse in PM Modi's security, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot slammed the BJP for allegedly politicising the issue.
"Congress wants to tell the prime minister that his security is everyone's responsibility. It is unfortunate that politics is being done on this. PM should not have made such a remark ('Made it back alive' remark): Rajasthan CM and Congress leader Ashok Gehlot said.
He said the SPG and Intelligence Bureau (IB) are responsible for security on the PM's visit and the state police follow the instructions and advice of the SPG.
"PM's convoy cannot proceed without the permission of the SPG," he added.
'Step Down, Quit': Ex CM Amarinder Sides With BJP
Siding with the BJP, former Congress leader and former CM of Punjab, Amarinder Singh, claimed that the Congress government should quit in light of the "complete failure of law and order", which obstructed Modi from reaching his destination.
Taking to Twitter, he wrote:
'Lapse in PM Security is Unacceptable': AAP
AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha also condemned the incident and stated that despite different political affiliations, any lapse in the security of the PM was unacceptable.
"Whatever our differences may be, every state government must provide highest level of security for the prime minister," he added.
A Congress leader, Sunil Jakhar, also reiterated this and said that a 'safe passage' should have been ensured for the PM. He tweeted:
‘Cheap Way to Gain Public Sympathy’: Rakesh Tikait
Taking a dig at PM Modi, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Thursday, 6 January, described the incident as a ‘cheap way to gain public sympathy’.
"When PM was coming to Punjab, what arrangements did he make regarding security? The news about him saying that he survived makes it clear that it was a stunt. It was an attempt to find a cheap way to gain public sympathy," Tikait alleged.
Amid a war of words between the BJP and the Congress, the farmer leader said that both are only "trying to defend themselves".
"The central government said that there was a security lapse and the Punjab government said that the prime minister did not go there because chairs in his rally were empty," Tikait said.
SKM Offers Clarification
The SKM, meanwhile, offered an insight into what had happened on Wednesday and said that the farmers – who were holding a symbolic protest over the arrest of Ajay Mishra Teni and their other unmet demands – were blocked from reaching their protest site and therefore, sat on the road.
A statement by the Union added further:
"Of these, was that flyover of Pyarayana too where the Prime Minister's convoy came, stopped and went back. The farmers protesting there had no concrete information that the Prime Minister's convoy was going to pass through."
In light on this and the fact that no farmers headed in the direction of PM's convoy, the farmer union stated that "the threat to the life of the Prime Minister seems completely concocted."
"It is a matter of great regret that to cover up the failure of his rally, the Prime Minister has tried to malign both the state of Punjab and the farmers' movement by using the pretext of "somehow his life was saved"...The Samyukta Kisan Morcha expects the Prime Minister of the country to not make such irresponsible statements keeping in mind the dignity of his post," the statement asserted.
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