Bihar government’s attitude to security arrangements was "callous and casual"

Accusing the Bihar government of going soft on terror for “collateral” reasons, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has demanded that the Centre seriously review the security of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, and called for a high-level inquiry to look into security lapses in Patna on Sunday.

In a detailed account of the situation on the ground in Patna — where Mr. Modi had addressed ‘Hunkar’ rally — Mr. Jaitley, who was also present on the occasion, said the Bihar government’s attitude to security arrangements for the event was “callous and casual.”

Claiming that “radicalisation” was on the rise in Bihar, Mr. Jaitley said that “being soft on terror leads to being soft on security.” However, he chose not to speculate if the Nitish Kumar government had deliberately been indifferent to security arrangements for the rally.

“These blasts are a grim reminder of the vulnerability of the security of both senior leaders and political events being organised in the run-up to the elections,” Mr. Jaitley said, adding it was not about an individual leader.

The BJP leader said the BJP decided to go ahead with the rally despite warnings by a junior police officer in the Bihar government as it did not want to spread panic among the large number of people who had gathered to listen to Mr. Modi.

He said that two officers of the Advance Security Liaison, which is necessary when a Chief Minister of another State is visiting, informed him that the required drill to ensure security had not been adequately carried out. Anti-sabotage checks were not made, Mr. Jaitley said, adding that a full dress rehearsal and frisking of those who came to attend the rally at various entry points had also not been substantially undertaken.

“A young lady police officer came up to discuss the issue with me. I asked her if it was safe to go ahead with the rally. I was worried that if BJP leaders, and particularly Shri Narendra Modi, did not address the rally the enthusiastic crowd would surge to the dais. Some would panic because of the security threat and leading to stampede which could result in many fatalities.”

“I asked the lady officer that if there was any evacuation plan ready. She replied that she would speak to her senior, the SSP. Thereafter, no police officer of Bihar contacted us or spoke to us,” Mr. Jaitley said.

Claiming that the blasts were intended to intimidate the BJP, which has vowed to fight these tendencies with greater determination, Mr. Jaitley said a policy against terror and the need for security cannot be used by any government to play vote-bank politics.

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