‘Chief guest’ Amit Shah misses BSF Day parade
Union home minister Amit Shah skipped the BSF Raising Day parade where he was to be the chief guest on Sunday morning, pulling out at the last minute over “unknown reasons”.
“We were looking forward to his presence on a big day for the force. We were a bit disappointed to learn he wouldn’t be coming,” a senior BSF officer said.
Shah had in October skipped the Indo-Tibetan Border Police’s Raising Day parade too, at a time an avowedly “nationalistic” government’s treatment of the paramilitary forces was provoking comment. The previous month, the government had frozen CRPF troops’ monthly ration allowance.
The home ministry’s media wing had on Saturday sent reporters an invite to the BSF event that said: “Union minister for home affairs, Shri Amit Shah, to be the chief guest at the BSF Day Parade.” The event was scheduled to begin at 9.15am on Sunday.
Asked why Shah had not turned up, a ministry spokesperson said: “The reason is not known to us. We only send invites when told to.”
It is unusual for a home minister to skip an event at the last moment without citing a reason.
Other ministry sources said Shah was in Delhi on Sunday morning but was holding meetings.
“He is also the BJP president and is busy planning and strategising the party campaign for the ongoing Jharkhand Assembly elections,” a ministry source said.
The October Assembly poll results in Maharashtra and Haryana were below the BJP’s expectations. To make it worse, the party leadership has been left with egg on its face with Devendra Fadnavis having to resign just three days after the Centre invoked special provisions to secretly install him as chief minister of Maharashtra.
The ITBP Raising Day was on October 24, the day the two Assembly election results came out. It is not known why Shah had skipped that event, where too he was to be the chief guest.
On Sunday, Shah posted a tweet at 11.20am, saying: “On BSF Raising Day, my greetings to the guardians of India’s frontiers and country’s first line of defence. From sand to snow, their dedication to serve the motherland in extreme weather conditions is truly inspirational. I salute the courage & sacrifice of our BSF personnel.”
Replying to his tweet, a retired BSF inspector-general, B.N Sharma, said: “Sir we missed your presence, you missed our parade, wish you could have been with BSF parivar. We can understand the pressing commitments which could force HM to cancel his coming to function as chief guest.”
Shah’s deputy Nityanand Rai officiated as the chief guest, took a ceremonial guard and reviewed the parade at the BSF camp in Chhawla, southwest Delhi. He also handed over gallantry and meritorious-service medals.
“It was a little disappointing to learn at the last moment that Amit Shahji won’t be attending,” another BSF officer said. “His presence would have boosted the force’s morale.”
The force, which has about 2.5 lakh personnel, was raised on December 1, 1965. It guards the 700km Line of Control under the army’s operational command, as well as the 2,289km international border with Pakistan and the Bangladesh border.
Both the BSF and the ITBP report directly to the home minister.