New Delhi: Days after a “security breach” left Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cavalcade stuck on a flyover near Ferozepur in Punjab, the Gandhi family’s silence on the matter remains conspicuous.
While the Congress party and its spokespersons have made many statements on the 5 January incident, the top leadership — Congress president Sonia Gandhi, general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and party leader Rahul Gandhi — has remained mum.
Senior Congress leaders who are considered close to the Gandhis have been questioning the BJP claims of a “security breach” in the PM’s convoy route, suggesting that their version has the backing of the party high command. Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi had earlier said that Sonia Gandhi had instructed him to look into the matter and take action if there had been any mistake. She has, however, not publicly commented on the issue.
While Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told ThePrint the PM’s security “should not be politicised”, senior BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal said he was shocked at the silence of the Gandhi family, as they have been “the biggest sufferers of security lapses”.
‘PM rally was cancelled due to no crowds at venue’
Last week, the PM had returned without addressing a rally in the poll-bound state after his convoy got stuck in a road blockade near Hussainiwala.
A day after the incident, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala had posted a four-part tweet stating that 10,000 security personnel had been deployed for the PM’s rally, and that all arrangements were made with the Special Protection Group (SPG), and other agencies.
According to his tweets, a route was carved out for all buses of BJP workers from Haryana and Rajasthan.
Surjewala alleged that the main reason for the PM’s rally being cancelled was that there were no crowds at the venue due to the farmers’ agitation, and called for an end to the “blame game”.
7. Post Farmer’s agitation, Modi Govt chose to totally ignore these promises.
8. Finally, the reason for canceling rally is that there were no crowds to listen to Modiji.
Stop blame game & introspect on BJP’s anti-farmer attitude.
Hold rallies but listen to Farmers first! https://t.co/kScLtNq3gg
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) January 5, 2022
Speaking to ThePrint, Congress spokesperson and senior leader Pawan Khera said “no one should drag the security of the prime minister as a political matter”.
“As a party, we are responding with facts. Whether it is Punjab CM Channi himself, or party spokespersons,” added Khera.
He said he could not comment on the silence of the Gandhi family.
Another Congress leader, on condition of anonymity, said that “no one wanted to speak on behalf of the Gandhi family or assume anything”.
However, many in the BJP have condemned “the silence of the first family” of the Congress.
Senior BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal told ThePrint: “The assassination of Mrs. Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi certainly makes them aware of the consequences due to breach in security. The party that has suffered so much casualty due to security, therefore, to be silent now, is really shocking.”
Echoing Khera’s statement in a different vein, Mittal said the PM’s security “goes beyond party politics”.
Rahul, Priyanka vocal on other issues on social media
Both Rahul and Priyanka, who are fairly active on Twitter, have not commented on the matter while being vocal about other issues.
While Priyanka has been hitting out at the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh ahead of state assembly elections, she has also been having live interactions.
On Saturday, she had tweeted that on 10 March (election results day), there will be a “victory march” by the people of UP after Congress fights “for the rights of youth, farmers, women, workers, traders and common people” this election.
Watch Me Live
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) January 8, 2022
10 मार्च को उप्र के नौजवानों, किसानों, महिलाओं, श्रमिकों, व्यापारियों एवं आमजनों की जीत का मार्च होगा।
इन चुनावों में कांग्रेस पार्टी नौजवानों, किसानों, महिलाओं, श्रमिकों, व्यापारियों एवं आमजनों के हकों की लड़ाई लड़ेगी।
लड़ेगा बढ़ेगा जीतेगा यूपी।
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) January 8, 2022
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi has also been tweeting fairly actively, highlighting developments in the ‘Bulli Bai’ case, questioning security lapses at Pangong Tso, and raising issues of the Surat Gas leak as well as fuel prices.
#BulliBaiApp मामले में अभियुक्तों की कम उम्र देखकर पूरा देश पूछ रहा था कि इतनी नफ़रत आती कहाँ से है?
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 8, 2022
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 5, 2022
Other opposition leaders who have remained mum on the incident are West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief MK Stalin and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
BJP youth wing chief Tejasvi Surya even said that the silence of MK Stalin on the issue would be taken as “as his tacit support of the sabotaging of the Prime Minister’s security.”
Opposition leaders who have raised the issue are Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who said that the matter should be investigated, while Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal head Naveen Patnaik said it was the duty of every government to provide fool-proof security. “Anything contrary should be unacceptable in our democracy,” he tweeted.
The Prime Minister of India is an institution. It is the duty of every Government to provide foolproof security and safeguard the dignity of this institution. Anything contrary should be unacceptable in our democracy.
— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) January 6, 2022
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav last week said that the protesting farmers should have allowed the PM to reach the rally venue so he could see the “empty chairs” there.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)