Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security breach in Punjab today set off a huge political storm, with the BJP accusing the state’s Congress government of engineering the situation that put him in the way of harm.
The Congress responded with some jibes, among them the controversial “How’s the Josh” tweet, which drew a sharp response from Union minister and senior BJP leader Smriti Irani.
“Modi ji, How’s the Josh?” Youth Congress national president Srinivas BV had posted, quoting a popular dialogue from the blockbuster movie “Uri: The Surgical Strike”.
“What enrages people like us the most is this — when the Prime Minister of India’s security was breached, the Congress leaders erupted with joy, asking him how his josh was,” Ms Irani told reporters today.
“The Prime Minister magnanimously then — it is reported in the media — on his way back it seemed communicated that “Zinda laut raha hoo”,” Ms Irani said.
“I’d like to tell the Congress establishment Modi became the Prime Minister of India with support from the people of India and he went to Punjab today to dedicate projects worth 42,000 crore to the people of Punjab. When you can’t answer on issues of development, this is the depth to which you would fall,” Ms Irani said.
Mr Srinivas, however, insisted that his tweet, posted minutes before the news broke on national media, was not a jibe about the security lapse. “When I tweeted at 2.37 pm, all news channels were running the news about vacant chairs at PM’s rally… I was tweeting about this… and not the alleged security lapse,” he told NDTV.
Dear Indian Media,
At 2.37 pm today, I tweeted when the news channels were flooded with news of Empty chairs,
Please ask yourself, when did you first air the news of Security Lapse on TV? pic.twitter.com/wTrvX9gxdf
— Srinivas BV (@srinivasiyc) January 5, 2022
The Congress has alleged that the Prime Minister chose to skip the Ferozepur rally where he was headed, as it was poorly attended.
On the way to the rally venue, PM Modi was stuck on a flyover in Punjab’s Bathinda for around 20 minutes as protesting farmers had blocked a road ahead. Visuals from the spot showed his convoy stranded, with Special Protection Group personnel forming a ring around the vehicle carrying him.
The Prime Minister was forced to turn back, without attending a mega rally in Ferozepur, scheduled ahead of the state elections due in weeks.
According to ANI, PM Modi told the Bhatinda airport officials: “Apne CM ko thanks kehna, ki mein Bhatinda airport tak zinda laut paaya (Thank your Chief Minister that I could make it alive to the Bathinda airport).”
Ripping into the Congress, Ms Irani said, “Those in the Congress who hate Modi, today tried to threaten PM’s security. Was the security breach deliberately called false? Those who compromised PM’s security, who planted them there? Who planted them so close to the PM’s car?”
“Never before in the history of our country has a state government knowingly constructed a scenario where the prime minister of the country will be brought to harm,” she added.
BJP chief JP Nadda accused the state police of collaborating with the protesters to “trigger the crisis. “State Police was instructed to prevent people from attending the rally… CM Channi refused to get on the phone to either address the matter or solve it,” Mr Nadda had tweeted.
The Congress, however, rubbished the allegations.
“Why is the PMO, BJP ministers or PM not saying this? Was the PM’s convoy attacked? Was there any Naxalite or terrorist there,” questioned senior party leader Randeep Surjewala.