Claiming that a specific alert was issued to the Bihar government about Narendra Modi's rally in Patna, the Bharatiya Janata Party on accused the Nitish Kumar government of lapses that led to serial blasts and charged it was soft on terror due to vote-bank politics.
The opposition party accused the state government of adopting a "casual and callous" attitude and demanded a high-level probe and a review of security of its prime ministerial candidate.
Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said at a press conference in New Delhi that the government needed to rethink on the security drill to be carried out for political rallies ahead of the next general elections and redefine its policy.
"This is an attack of Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders. It was intended to intimidate our party, which has vowed with greater determination to fight these tendencies. The ministry of home affairs and the Government of India should seriously review the security of Narendra Modi," he said.
Jaitley, who was present at the Patna rally, attacked the Nitish government, saying "the attitude of the Bihar government was casual and callous...In this environment, are we going to be soft on security because some state governments want to be seen as soft on terror for obvious reasons?"
Charging the state with "monumental failure", he said "this attack coming in this backdrop clearly establishes the extent of radicalisation which took place in the state."
Refuting claims of the Bihar government that there were no alerts issued by the Centre about the rally, he said, "This does not appear to be factually correct...A specific alert was sent to the Bihar police by the central Intelligence Bureau on October 23, 2013 with regard to the rally to be addressed by Narendra Modi in Patna."
"This alert was specific enough to mention that the IM modules could organise strikes during Narendra Modi’s Patna visit. A reference to the arrest of Bhatkal, an information emanating from another source was also mentioned."
The BJP leader said India cannot afford to be either soft on terror or soft on security. "A policy against terror and the need for the security cannot be relatable to the policy of vote bank politics of a given government," he said.
BJP President Rajnath Singh said there was a "security lapse" at Modi's rally and extra precautions should have been taken. The party plans to make the rally blasts issue a political one and will be holding conferences to highlight the incident in several state capitals on Tuesday.
Condemning the blasts and expressing condolences to the families of those killed, Jaitley said the blasts are a grim reminder of the vulnerability of the security of both senior leaders and political events being organized in the run up to the elections.
"Security is an issue of concern and thus the Centre needs to reassure us," he said referring to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. "We have demanded the tightening of security of leaders with special focus on Narendra Modi. We have also asked for a rethink on the security drill not just for leaders of our party, but also for all. We have sought that the mandatory drill of rallies be redefined," Jaitley said.
The BJP leader claimed people were allowed to enter the venue without frisking and after the blasts took place, the local police failed to explain the evacuation procedure for the people and BJP leaders who were present on stage.
Claiming that a lot of explosives were sneaked into the ground, he said, "If a casualty was further averted, it was purely our good luck that whatever explosives came in the ground did not explode," he said. He added there could have been "frightening consequences" due to the panic caused by blasts had local BJP leaders not instilled confidence in the crowds by saying they are crackers being burst. "The consequences of panic could have been very frightening," he said.
Rajnath Singh said, "Security lapse was there, there cannot be any doubt about that." The BJP chief said since the rally was being addressed by Narendra Modi, "extra precautions should have been taken" to ensure that people are not put to inconvenience.
Image: BJP leaders Sushil Kumar Modi, Satrughan Sinha, Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley at the rally in Patna