: Farmers stage a demonstration to block Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cavalcade, in Ferozepur, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: The BJP has blamed the "political patronage" given by the Congress to the farmers’ protest and their road blockade in Punjab on Wednesday, which forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cut short his visit to the state, where he was due to address a party rally in Ferozpur and lay the foundation stones of development works of around Rs 42,750 crores.
The BJP questioned why the security details on the PM’s movement, including the route of his cavalcade, had been leaked, leading to a major security breach. While the BKU Krantikari, a farmers’ union, reportedly claimed responsibility for the protest on the PM’s route, the Union home ministry asked the state government for a detailed report on the matter.
The state government, meanwhile, asserted that there was no danger to the PM, whose office had been asked by the Punjab government to cancel the visit due to bad weather and protests. Chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi said that if there was any security lapse, the state government was ready to probe the matter. The Punjab Congress also claimed that the PM’s programme was called off as the rally was a "flop show".
The CM also claimed that the state government had no information of the PM’s "sudden route change," contradicting the Union home ministry, which said the PM proceeded to travel by road to the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala, and not by helicopter as earlier planned, "after necessary confirmation of necessary security arrangements by the DGP Punjab Police". The BJP also accused the CM of not responding to the SOS calls by the PM’s security team when he was stuck on the flyover for 15-20 minutes.
While the Congress denied allegations levelled by the BJP, the other Opposition parties in the state, including the Akali Dal, AAP and PLC, also blamed the state government for the security breach, reiterating that law and order and security were sensitive issues for a border state like Punjab, which was going to the polls.
Senior Punjab Congress leader and campaign committee chairman Sunil Jhakar also targeted the state government for the security lapse, saying that "a secure passage for the Prime Minister of India to address the BJP political rally in Ferozpur should have been ensured. That’s how democracy works". Even AAP leader Bhagwant Mann said that providing security to everyone in Punjab was the state government’s responsibility, and a breach in the PM’s security was very worrying.
Questions were also raised on why neither the CM nor the chief secretary or even the DGP had received the PM at the airport, as per protocol.
"Today’s Congress-made happenings in Punjab is a trailer of how this party thinks and functions… The topmost echelons of the Congress owe and apology to the people of India for what they have done… Such dereliction of security procedures [regarding the] Prime Minister’s visit is totally unacceptable and accountability will be fixed," tweeted Union home minister Amit Shah.
"We know the Congress hates Modi but today they tried to harm the PM of India… Never before in the history of our country, a state government knowingly constructed a scenario where the PM will be brought to harm," said Union minister Smiriti Irani, who also noted the tweet by the Indian Youth Congress chief on the incident, saying: "Why did the Congress erupt with joy after the PM’s security breach?"