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HindustanTimes Fri,31 Oct 2014

Punjab police scuttle Sonia’s road-show

Rajesh Ahuja , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 25, 2014
First Published: 01:39 IST(25/4/2014) | Last Updated: 01:42 IST(25/4/2014)

Politicians love them, but there is nothing the security establishment hates more about Indian elections — heavily-guarded politicians trying to reach out to unmarked people at road-shows.

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Though BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi got all the clearances for riding an open vehicle before filing nomination in Varanasi, security officers put their foot down and refused to permit Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s proposed road-show in Punjab’s Ropar slated later this week.

“The Punjab police very clearly expressed their inability to make the necessary arrangements for it,” a home ministry official said, pointing out that the police argued they had deployed all their resources for Modi rally at Bhatinda a day before Sonia’s proposed road-show on April 26. Now, Gandhi will have to settle for a public meeting in Barnala.

Security sources told HT that requests for security clearances were usually considered between the agency guarding a politician and the host police at advance security liaison meetings.

“In Modi’s case, the UP police readily agreed to allow the road-show,” a senior security officer said. But central security agencies did keep “a very close watch” after advising the state to pay attention to secure all the buildings located on both sides of the route.

The SPG, which looks after the security of PM Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her two children, is also getting particularly hassled with Rahul Gandhi’s impromptu road-shows, sources told HT.

“Both (Rahul and Priyanka) travelled in an open vehicle with roses being showered on them. It was a standard visit that turned into a road-show. The IB raised the issue with the SPG with regard to Rahul’s road-shows,” added the official.

Modi managed to hold a road-show in Vadodara when he filed nomination from there, overriding security concerns. But since it was taking place in Gujarat and the state police handle his security arrangements, they just managed to do it without involving anyone else.


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