In a rare moment of faux pas, Bengal police has offered armed salute to Rahul Sinha, BJP national secretary and a bitter critic of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, ironically a day before he arrived in Darjeeling to participate in a public meeting by BJP where he is expected to attack the ruling party and the state government ruthlessly.
In the afternoon as Sinha entered the resort four guards and an officer raised their weapons and saluted him. For a moment Sinha was taken aback but then decided to salute back. BJP and Trinamool Congress are bitter opponents who have been at the jugular of each other for the past few years, and the battle heightened since 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Armed salutes (salam-e-shastra) are accorded to visiting dignitaries, top police officials and ministers. But it is never shown to opposition leaders, asserted senior police officers in Kolkata.
The ritual is also a part of guard of honour, where a red carpet and a bugle are mandatory, police officers told HT.
An embarrassed police super of the district told HT that it was definitely not guard of honour.
“In a guard of honour a red carpet is rolled out and there is a man with a bugle. They (the guards in the picture) were house guards as he enjoys Y category security,” said Surya Pratap Singh, police super of Darjeeling.
“I am provided with Y category security and, therefore, they might have done it,” said Sinha himself who is sure to be uncomfortable with the show of honour by the police force that he criticises regularly for unleashing oppression on his party workers.
Sinha will be attending a public meeting by BJP at Chowk Bazar in the town on Thursday. “It is a historic event. Since BJP was formed in the 1980s there has not been a single public meeting by the party in Darjeeling, except during elections,” he said.
Speakers in the meeting will dwell on the shortcomings of the TMC government. “Despite their tall claims they have not been successful in resolving the political issue in Darjeeling,” Sinha said.
However, he refrained from spelling out BJP’s prescription for the Darjeeling impasse.
BJP leaders have also invited Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha leaders to attend the meeting. Sinha will be attending a law violation programme in Jalpaiguri on Friday. On Saturday a four-member national team of the party led by Sinha will visit Pundibari in Cooch Behar where around 40 houses of BJP supporters were torched.