Congress President Rahul Gandhi had a narrow escape on Saturday during his roadshow in Madhya Pradesh when helium-filled balloons burst into flames some distance away from the vehicle he was travelling by. Nobody has been reported to be hurt in the incident. A bunch of helium balloons burst into flames after they touched oil lamps held by one of the party workers. The party worker was holding the lamps to perform aarti of the Congress chief.
The video of the incident shows Rahul Gandhi leading the campaign event while standing in an open vehicle, surrounded by police personnel. Suddenly, a huge flame can be seen bursting up, startling the Congress President. The incident caused a brief panic during the roadshow.
The clip shows that some Congress workers were holding a plate with an oil lamp to welcome Gandhi, when a bunch of balloons that was supposed to be released in air came into contact with the lamp and burst into flames.
Confirming the incident, Jabalpur Superintendent of Police Amit Singh Sunday ruled out any security lapse, saying the incident occurred about 15-feet away from the security ring of police.
"There would have been lapse if the incident had occurred inside the security ring, but it occurred around 15-feet away. Nobody was injured in the incident, though there was a flame due to helium (gas) in the balloon," Singh said.
He said the person who wanted to welcome Gandhi is identified as Kaudi Lal Rai, a Congress block president who has been associated with the party for the last 30 years as a worker.
"Rai wanted to welcome Gandhi. Some Congress workers were standing near him with balloons in their hands. The balloons came into contact with the lamp and a huge flame went up," the police officer said.
Responding to a query on how helium-filled balloons were allowed at the event of Gandhi, an SPG-protectee, Singh pointed out that the Blue Book (security guidelines) doesn't mention that such balloons or the 'aarti' plate are not allowed.
"One can obviously be startled, if a balloon bursts near one even in a birthday party," he said.
The Congress president started the 8-km long road show from Abdul Hamid Chowk.
The route of the roadshow covered three assembly constituencies -- Jabalpur West, Jabalpur North Central, and Jabalpur East (SC).
(With PTI Inputs)