Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision on Wednesday to “retrace his steps” was prompted by the low turnout at his scheduled rally in Ferozepur, not security concerns, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Channi has said.
The PM was initially scheduled to fly to the venue, but was forced to travel by road because of bad weather. His retinue got stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes because the route was blocked by farmer protestors, leading to a war of words between the BJP and the Congress. The Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a report from the Congress government in Punjab on the incident.
Addressing the media on Thursday, Channi challenged those questioning the nationalistic credentials of Punjab, and said Punjabis had never shied away from making sacrifices for the country.
“The truth is that five days before the scheduled rally of the prime minister, the Special Protection Group (SPG) took over the landing spot, rally site and security detail. But later on the prime minister’s cavalcade suddenly took the land route,” Channi said, adding the route was cleared by the SPG.
He said if there was any danger to the PM, every Punjabi would shed be prepared to shed their blood and face bullets, as they have done before in the service of the nation.
He also questioned what the intelligence apparatus around the PM were doing and if they had sensed any threat to his safety.