Manmohan’s visit to Gujarat cancelled, Congress blames PMO

Ahmedabad: Former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Gujarat on Saturday, which coincided with BJP president Amit Shah’s felicitation programme here, has been cancelled due to alleged security issues, the Congress announced here.

The opposition party blamed the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for pressurizing the Special Protection Group (SPG) to not extend security permission for the former prime minister’s visit.

“We had planned Dr. Singh’s programme for over a month. The behaviour of SPG suddenly turned peculiar and negative in the last two to three days. They began harassing our staff and on the pretext of security concerns, they have got our function cancelled,” Leader of Opposition in assembly Shankersinh Vaghela told media persons in Gandhinagar.

“The PMO appears to have pressurized SPG and Gujarat Police to get us to cancel the programme.”

The SPG, on its part, is learnt to have given the reason that as one of the venues was going to hold examinations, the use of loudspeakers at the function could cause disturbance.

Manmohan Singh was to arrive at Ahmedabad on Saturday morning to inaugurate a newly-constructed building of an educational institution near Gandhinagar. He was also scheduled to attend an award function as well as visit Manav Seva Sannidhi’s artificial limb camp in Shahibaug area.

Both functions, one an inauguration of building at Samarpan Education Campus and award function at Gujarat Knowledge Village, were organised by Vaghela.

Vaghela claimed the real reason for SPG not granting permission for Manmohan Singh to visit the state was the felicitation function of Amit Shah by the Gujarat unit on Saturday.

“Amit Shah is being felicitated on the day the tragedy of Godhra train burning took place. It suits BJP to remind people of the train burning to claim the leadership of majority community,” he said, referring to the February 27, 2002 train burning at Godhra railway station, which left 58 kar sewaks dead.

Vaghela also alleged that the BJP was afraid that if the former prime minister was in town, he would have cornered major share of news space.