Union home minister Rajnath Singh was forced to cancel an election rally in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district on Wednesday after his chopper’s pilot failed to locate the landing spot, the third such incident involving BJP leaders.
The BJP said it was part of a “conspiracy” hatched by the JMM-led government to put its leaders in harm’s way by diverting their choppers to Maoist-affected areas. BJP leader Ajay Maroo said Singh’s rally at Barajanda in Jagganathpur constituency was cancelled due to the “security lapse”.
A BJP release said the chopper hovered over the “wrong area” for over 30 minutes before the pilot decided to call off the landing.
Singh took the same chopper to address three other rallies at Manjhgaon, Potka and Sisai constituencies which will go to the polls on December 2. The home minister made no mention of the incident in his rallies, BJP leaders said.
West Singbhum superintendent of police Narendra Kumar Singh said a “local engineer” gave the wrong coordinates — latitude and longitude — due to which the pilot could not find the landing strip. “It is not a security lapse. However, it is a mistake by the local engineer,” he said.
Deputy commissioner Aboobacker Siddique said engineers of the building and construction department are entrusted with preparing the landing coordinates which are then approved by the sub-divisional officer (SDO). “We will investigate the matter,” he added.
The BJP said it would lodge a formal complaint with Election Commission pointing out similarity between such lapses involving its leaders in the ongoing poll.
Jharkhand chief electoral officer PK Jajoria — who was informed of the incident verbally — said it was a matter fit for investigation. “Strict action would be taken against officials if found guilty,” he added.
The EC is already investigating a November 6 letter by the BJP in which it had accused the government of using the administrative machinery to divert choppers used by party leaders to areas where Maoists are active.