With the sun set at 18:46 hours on Monday, the Mumbai police have asked the advanced security liaison team of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to advance his earlier planned helicopter landing at the Mumbai domestic airport from Kalyan at 18:45 hours, by ten minutes.
To ensure that a contingency police protocol for an alternate sunset road travel of 48 km between Kalyan and MMRDA grounds, Bandra Kurla Complex is avoided, the Mumbai police have suggested Modi cut his speech at the Kalyan rally by 15 minutes.
In a contingency weather situation, or if Modi is unable to wrap his speech within the revised time gap, pushing him to take the road, the resulting security cover goes for a domino effect.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) visual flight rules require helicopters to land by sunset and not a minute later. “Modi’s schedule of an extra minute proved to go against aviation rules,” the police said.
Modi will address the combined Shiv Sena and BJP rally at MMRDA grounds, Bandra Kurla Complex.
On route from Agra, the PM candidate is expected to land at the Mumbai airport at 17:00 hours and leave for Kalyan in a private helicopter at 17:10 hours. With the airfield to airfield time taking 20 minutes both ways, Modi’s earlier podium schedule at Kalyan was 60 minutes, according to an official with the Thane police.
The Mumbai police said he would now have to ensure that he left the Kalyan podium 15 minutes before the scheduled time to avoid Mumbai going to a stand still.
Unlike Modi’s chopper schedule, Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s chopper will land directly at the BKC grounds, avoiding all the security details.
“Though its not on his route, we have begun to sanitise the stretch for scarp vehicles. Several scrap dealers leave vehicles unattended in that stretch,” said an officer.
MU denies landing space for Modi
The last time Modi was in town, Satyapal Singh, former Police Commissioner and now a BJP candidate, ensured that his helicopter landed inside Mumbai University. This time, university officials have offered the BJP no such opportunity to put them under pressure by piling rubble on top of its helipad and rendering it unusable, confirmed police officials.
The snub has increased Modi’s travel time to MMRDA grounds in BKC from five to 13 minutes.
During his last rally in December, Modi reached the venue from the University helipad in five minutes. On Monday, his convoy will exit domestic airport’s gate number 8, and pass the university campus in Kalina to BKC.
The University’s unexpected move has required the police to formulate a new security detail and scan the 2 km route for IEDs. “We have started clearing over 300 cars that are parked on the 2.4 km stretch and in the surrounding areas as his threat perception includes a detail of car IED,” said an officer.
According to an agreement that has to be signed between the MU vice-chancellor and the state government, a vice-chancellor is not permitted to allow the use of any premises or resources of the university for political events. In December 2013, when BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had organised a pre-election rally in the city, persons from BJP approached MU, seeking permission for use of its helipad.
It was, however, denied by the university due to the above reason, said sources. Subsequently, Satyapal Singh used his discretionary special powers and gave permission for Modi to use the university helipad, without taking any permission from the university. University sources said its helipad was not in a condition to be used and was under repair.