Verbal sniping between rival parties in poll-bound Bihar hit a new low on Friday when RJD chief Lalu Prasad mocked BJP president Amit Shah who was trapped inside a lift at the state guesthouse in Patna for about 20 minutes.
CRPF personnel ripped apart the lift’s steel doors late on Thursday night to rescue a distraught Shah and at least three other party colleagues who were reportedly participating in a meeting to prepare grounds for the assembly polls expected to be held by October.
“A man as fat as Amit Shah shouldn’t have entered the Patna lift as Bihar lifts are not made to carry such fat people,” Prasad told a news agency.
The RJD chief’s jibe at the BJP president came about two months after he mocked Shah when he was in the state to attend a programme on International Yoga Day. “Shah has a pot belly so he could not do yoga,” Prasad had said.
Alleging a possible conspiracy against Shah, the BJP demanded a probe to find out why the state guesthouse lift stopped midway, trapping him for nearly half an hour.
“It is gross dereliction of duty and irresponsibility on part of people responsible for facilities at the guesthouse,” state BJP president Mangal Pandey said.
“Nobody was present in the guesthouse to deal with emergencies though a person with Z+ security cover was staying there.”
The guesthouse is located in a high-security zone, barely a stone’s throw from the residences of the chief minister and governor in Patna.
However, the state government dismissed the charge and attributed the episode to “overloading”.
“The lift at the state guesthouse is brand new with a total capacity of 340 kg. People accompanying Shah said more than five people were in the lift at that time which apparently means there was more weight than the permissible limit," state principal secretary for cabinet coordination Shishir Sinha told PTI.
The incident occurred at about 11:15pm when Shah was going from the ground floor to the first floor along with party in-charge for Bihar Bhupendra Yadav, secretary Nagendra, general secretary Saudan Singh and a couple of security personnel.
Those inside called the emergency toll free number and finally security personnel rescued Shah and the others who were reportedly experiencing breathlessness. Shah flew back to New Delhi on Friday morning.
“Rivals keep speaking ill against the BJP and its chief throughout the day,” senior BJP leader CP Thakur said. “A conspiracy cannot be ruled out in the incident.”