This is in stark in contrast with the events of Wednesday where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to turn back without holding a rally in Punjab
It was 18 November, 2018 and this correspondent was travelling with then Union home minister Rajnath Singh who was campaigning for the Assembly elections in Maoist-affected Chhattisgarh. Being the home minister, Singh was a top-level protectee of the National Security Guard (NSG).
The chopper carrying him broke down at a rally venue but then chief minister Raman Singh wasted no time in immediately calling up the Union minister, arranging secure vehicles for an impromptu hour-long road trip to another venue, ensuring security en route and also arranging for another chopper at the next venue.
This seemed in stark in contrast with the events of Wednesday where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to turn back without holding a rally in Punjab due to his route being blocked by protesters, in what the Centre termed as a “big security lapse”. The BJP said Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi even did not take calls for help when the prime minister was stuck on a flyover.
On 18 November, 2018, we had landed in a chopper from Raipur for Singh’s first rally in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh district in a small village, Kanjura in Lailunga block. After the rally, the chopper could not start both engines and was unable to take off. There was a considerable concern as the home minister was stuck deep inside Chhattisgarh.
Singh had led the charge against Maoists in his tenure as the home minister and there was an apprehension that the word could spread that his chopper had broken down in Chhattisgarh.
Raman Singh soon learnt of this and immediately called up the home minister. Within about half-an-hour as Rajnath Singh sat under a stall to hold a ‘chaupal’ with villagers, the chief minister arranged for secure vehicles that would take the home minister and his security entourage by road to the next venue, over an hour away.
Our cavalcade passed through several small villages and narrow roads but security was arranged en route and we could spot policemen posted on the roads to ensure we did not face any trouble on the way. Senior police officials of the district also reached the previous venue and some of them accompanied the cavalcade till the next venue.
On reaching the next venue, Rajnath profusely thanked the local police for their help and the central and state security officials shared a meal. Another chopper was promptly arranged at the second venue in Dharamjaigarh to allow the home minister to continue his journey as the third rally venue was in another part of the state. An eventful day ended well.
Such sentiment seemed to have been captured by Congress leader Sunil Jakhar on Wednesday when he seemed to give a tip to his own government in Punjab, saying what happened with the prime minister in Punjab was simply not acceptable and was against “Punjabiyat”. Jakhar said democracy works by ensuring the prime minister’s safe passage for a political rally.