New Delhi: Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu mocked the controversy over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aborted visit to Ferozepur in Punjab, saying that while the PM was only inconvenienced for "15 minutes" the farmers protesting had to wait for a year to get the controversial farm laws bill repealed.
"I want to ask Pradhan Mantri Sahab, our farmer brothers camped at the Delhi borders for over one year... tell me, they stayed there for one and half-year. Your media did not say anything," Mr Sidhu was quoted as saying at a rally by news agency PTI. "...And yesterday you had to wait for 15 minutes... Why these double standards?"
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister was forced to wait in traffic on a flyover on his way to a scheduled rally, when the road was blocked, allegedly by farmer's protesting against the now-repealed farm laws. The PM then returned to Bhatinda airport. Controversy soon brewed as the Ministry for Home Affairs released a statement alleging at the Punjab government had not prepared security adequately for the visit.
The Punjab Congress, on the other hand, said the event was cancelled to avoid poor optics as there was poor attendance at the rally due to rain.
"PM couldn't have addressed empty chairs like shameless Ex-CM Captain (Amarinder Singh). The only way out was to divert media attention to the alleged security threat & save humiliation of addressing 500 people on 70000 chairs," Sidhu had tweeted earlier.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi clarified on Wednesday that no such security lapse as alleged by the MHA or the BJP had occurred, stating that the PM had been given alternate routes to his destination that he had opted to return to the airport instead.
On Thursday, CM Channi alleged that the "security threat" was a series of "cheap theatricals" arranged by the BJP to topple his democratically-elected government ahead of the Assembly Elections in Punjab and muzzle voices of democracy in Punjab and Kashmir.
Speaking at an inauguration event in Hoshiarpur, Channi reminded PM Modi that Punjabis have sacrificed their lives for unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country and added that they could never pose any danger to the life and security of the prime minister.