Army ‘denies’ then gives nod for Modi chopper to land in Kolkata

BJP says state not providing food, lodging to NSG commandos.

Kolkata | Updated: February 5, 2014 6:01:38 pm
View of Brigade Parade Ground where BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi will hold a rally today. (Subham Dutta) View of Brigade Parade Ground where BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi will hold a rally today. (Subham Dutta)

Ahead of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rally in Kolkata, the state BJP Tuesday said the Defence Ministry has allowed it to land Gujarat chief minister’s helicopter at race course ground here, hours after it had alleged “non-cooperation” and “conspiracy” by the state and the central governments claiming army authorities had denied the permission for same.

“We have got the permission finally from the Ministry of Defence. After media reports, the Centre was forced to give permission as a damage control measure,” state BJP secretary Ritesh Tewary said.

Modi’s schedule, thus, remained unchanged and after landing at the NSC Bose International Airport here Wednesday, he would board a helicopter to the race course ground, which is controlled by the Army authorities. He is scheduled to address a public rally at the Brigade Parade Ground.

Earlier in the day, the party had claimed that the Army had refused permission for the helicopter to land at the race course ground since it could only be used by the President or Prime Minister and not any other political person.

State BJP president Rahul Sinha said the party had applied for permission for Modi to be flown in a helicopter from the NSC Bose International Airport to the race course ground to avoid traffic snarls.

“This morning a defence official told us that the permission can’t be granted and sought a written request from the Gujarat government. The Gujarat CMO then faxed an official request,” Sinha said.

Late in the evening, Army authorities said the landing permission could not be granted earlier due to lapse in procedural formalities.

“There were some procedural lapses when they (BJP) sought permission for helicopter landing. So we explained them to follow the procedural formalities after which the clearance was given in the evening,” an army official said.

Meanwhile, Sinha criticised the state and the central governments for alleged non-cooperation with Gujarat security officials.

“Both the state and the Centre are not cooperating with us. The state government has not made any arrangements for food and accommodation for the NSG and Gujarat officials who have come here for security arrangements. According to the rules, the state is bound to provide food and accommodation to the NSG commandos,” he said, asking, whether the Mamata Banerjee government “wants another Patna-like meeting here.”

He, however, said the party was not anticipating any terror attacks here as “because Bengal is the breeding place of terrorists but they would not stage an attack at their home”.

Sinha said central and the state government are afraid of the country-wide Modi wave. “The state and the Centre have got petrified as all the signs show that Modi will become the next Prime Minister,” he said.

Asked what he thought of Mamata referring to Modi as `Dangabaaz’ during the TMC rally, Sinha said, “She never mentioned any name. I thought she was talking about Mukul Roy. If she is so sure, why didn’t she take any names?.”

With PTI

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