CM Channi’s use of ‘offensive words’ against PM signals that Congress chief’s instructions went unheeded.
New Delhi: Congress’ interim president Sonia Gandhi may have spoken with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi “expressing displeasure’ over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security breach, but the problems for the Punjab government seem to be far from over. The development, from PM Modi’s meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind to the Home Ministry getting massively active, does not augur well for the Channi government.
Undeniably, a PM’s security breach like this has never happened before. What underlines the seriousness of the incident is the PM telling officials “They should thank their CM that he made it alive to the airport’’.
Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi’s communication with Channi is being seen as a “late reaction”. What remains to be seen, however, is how Sonia Gandhi’s intervention helps the Congress politically. But Channi using “unparliamentary tu-tadak” words for the PM signals that Sonia Gandhi’s intervention has hardly worked. This may invite more troubles for the Punjab government, say observers. In what may give the Punjab Congress anxious moments, the Supreme Court has ordered the Channi government to ensure all records and materials pertaining to the PM’s movements in the state.
What the “inexperienced strategists” of the Congress are unable to understand is that the party will be in a deep crisis if the Punjab government is dismissed for this. No opposition party will support the Congress in this situation either. Punjab is the only state where Congress is hopeful of its return to power. Apparently unaware of the seriousness of the issue, some younger leaders criticized PM Modi, alleging that ‘lack of crowd’ forced the BJP to cancel the rally. CM Channi did regret “security lapse” but he, at the same time, tried to lend it political colour by referring to farmers’ issues. If the party had gone by what Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said soon after the incident, the situation would not have worsened like this. Gehlot had questioned the role of central agencies. But the party leaders’ remarks and youth Congress president B.V. Srinivas’ “How’s the Josh” comment gave the BJP a handle against the grand old party, and the ruling party turned it into an emotive issue.
In order to turn the tables on BJP, Congress senior leader Manish Tiwary took a different line but rest of the leaders including state functionaries spoilt the plan making “preposterous” statements. What was also noticeable was that Congress was isolated in the entire political slugfest. Needless to say, it was a clear case of breach in PM’s security as his convoy remained stranded for around 20 minutes in an area close to Pakistan’s border. But a serious incident like this was politicised. Congress linked it to what it called “fear of a flop rally”. After the PM’s reaction, the BJP got more active and tried to make it a big ‘emotive issue’. All the central ministers and BJP CMs slammed Congress and Punjab government for the security breach. The opposition parties also asked the state government to come clean on this.
But Channi’s clarification embarrassed the Congress itself. Channi said that he could not use force to remove farmers. What it suggested was CM’s awareness of the blockage being created by farmers. In view of the upcoming election, the Punjab CM was referring to farmers repeatedly for political purposes.
Meanwhile, Gehlot was cautious while reacting to the incident. He raised the questions on the role of central agencies, saying that agencies like IB, SPG, etc. are more responsible for PM security than the local police. IB keeps collecting inputs from the local intelligence every now and then when the PM is on the move. Gehlot said that the SPG had been brought in for the PM’s security following the assassination of two former PMs Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. The SPG Act has special provisions for the security of the Prime Minister. He said that the PM’s convoy cannot move forward without a green signal from the SPG. Gehlot said that SPG should clarify as to why the PM was made to take the two-hour long road journey without proper planing and preparation. Why did the SPG allow the PM’s convoy to travel through the area where farmers were staging a stir and the CM had given inputs on this as well, asked Gehlot. He stressed on the need to fix responsibility of central agencies as well as the local ones. Congress leader Sunil Jakhar expressed deep anguish over the incident in what was seen as a different line of reaction. SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and AAP leader Raghav Chadha also slammed Congress for the security breach incident. At the same time, the BJP is apparently keen to use the issue to score over Congress in the assembly elections as well. The saffron party is already seeking to gain a big ground in Punjab with the help of former CM Amarinder Singh in the upcoming polls.