At Gandhi Maidan, Patna, it was Gujarat Police officers who had flown down for the Narendra Modi rally who took charge of the situation after the blasts there on October 27. They tried to persuade BJP leaders to abort the rally. Rajnath Singh objected because he felt it would give the impression that party leaders were running away. Arun Jaitley pointed out that to call off the rally would cause a stampede and more casualties. In fact, Shahnawaz Hussain and others who were on the dais even announced that they had heard the sound of firecrackers, to reassure the crowd. Modi, who insisted on going ahead with his speech, did not refer to the blasts even once. However, the Gujarat Police had four cars ready in case more blasts took place.
In the dark
When Bihar’s former deputy chief minister Sushil Modi telephoned state DGP Abhayanand after the blasts, the latter was completely in the dark. He informed Modi that he had heard some firecrackers had been burst at the railway station. This is not the first time the Bihar Police has been caught napping. It was the Union Home Secretary who informed a senior Bihar Police officer of the explosions at the Mahabodhi temple in July.
On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to China last month, the Ministry of External Affairs was perturbed to find thin attendance at an MEA briefing and at a media interaction with Montek Singh Ahluwallia. On inquiry it turned out that the missing journalists had been instructed by their TV channels to go to the Beijing vegetable market and do a report on onion prices in China, as Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had talked of the possibility of importing onions from the country. Incidentally, the man on the street in China was not happy at the prospect of exporting onions to India. The price of cabbages in China has shot up because of exports to South Korea.
Narendra Modi may have slipped up on facts, but his conclusion that the Nehru-Gandhi family had animus towards Sardar Patel is not without some basis. Indira Gandhi’s secretary B N Tandon recalls in his PMO Diaries that he expected the biography of Sardar to be available in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s Makers of Modern India series. To his surprise, he found nothing on Patel. On investigation, he discovered that a draft manuscript had been rejected by