The Congress on Thursday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP of defaming and insulting Punjab and Punjabiat by playing petty politics on the issue of "security breach" during his visit to the poll-bound state.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said at a press conference that the prime minister and the ruling party are trying to create a controversy over the issue, which is dangerous for democracy. He cited several examples wherein the prime minister's cavalcade was held up in Delhi, Noida and Lucknow, and said the prime minister did not use the same words to defame the chief ministers there as he did for Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.
"You want to defame the entire Punjab, its three crore people and Punjabiat and Punjabi culture. Punjabi tradition is such that they will protect you with their own lives and every Punjabi has that courage," Khera told reporters.
"To win petty political battles, you cannot undermine this country, any region of this country, any institution of this country. But, unfortunately, the prime minister always chooses to do this, especially when that region has nothing to do with the BJP, that region rejects the BJP always," he said. "Why are you insulting Punjab," he asked.
In a "major security lapse", Modi's convoy was stranded on a flyover due to a blockade by farm protesters in Ferozepur on Wednesday. He returned from poll-bound Punjab without attending any event, including a rally. The Centre blamed the Congress government in Punjab for the breach.
On Thursday, the state government constituted a two-member committee to conduct a "thorough probe" into the incident. "The BJP is making every effort to defame farmers and the chief minister of Punjab but everyone knows what is the truth. Politics apart, the responsibility of SPG and IB, besides other agencies, should be fixed" the Congress said on its Twitter handle.
Khera said instead of politicising the matter, the prime minister should behave in a manner which befits the mighty institution he holds. "Do not try and prove it to the world, show it to the world something which is not true. India is not a banana republic, despite your efforts to make it one," he said.
Over the last 24 hours, Khera alleged, there have been some attempts unfortunately by the prime minister and the ruling party to create a controversy. The Congress leader claimed that as per the blue book that is followed by the Special Protection Group (SPG), there is advance security lesson in which all stakeholders and security agencies come together and follow it in letter and spirit.
He said the SPG takes the final call and other agencies assist the SPG in executing it. "Let the enquiry report come out, facts will be there for you," he said. The Congress leader claimed that what happened with the prime minister in Punjab was because of a sudden change of plans and him not taking an alternative route. He also did not provide time to the Punjab Police to clear the path, Khera claimed.
He said the prime minister knowing well that the farmers are protesting against the Centre should have given more time to security forces or should have taken an alternative route. He also said the farmers are seeking sacking of MoS Ajay Mishra Teni whose son is named in the charge-sheet in Lakhimpur Kheri killings.
Citing past examples, Khera said the prime minister had in 2017 elections in Gujarat accused former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Army General Deepak Kapoor and former Vice President Hamid Ansari of plotting against him in collusion with Pakistan.
Khera said on September 22, 2017, the prime minister was visiting his home constituency Varanasi when some girls of Banaras Hindu University were protesting against harassment at the Lanka Gate area of Varanasi and top police officers tried to dissuade them, but they failed and the girls continued protesting.
"Did you hear the prime minister utter these words, which he uttered yesterday for Punjab, in Punjab. 'Thank You Mr Chief Minister, Main Zinda Laut Aya, I am returning alive'. You didn't hear this against (UP CM) Adityanath. Why didn't he use these words in UP," he asked.
He also said that on September 15, 2018 in Delhi, when the prime minister was attending the Swachhata Shramdan Programme, his cavalcade got stuck near Paharganj in a traffic jam. but he did not say, "Mr. Chief Minister, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, Thank You, I am going back alive, why? Why these double standards."
On December 25, 2017, when the prime minister was going to inaugurate the magenta line of the Metro in Gautam Buddha Nagar, his cavalcade lost its way, wasted some minutes, and a junior officer was suspended.
With inputs from PTI.