PATNA: BJP President Amit Shah and three other senior party leaders were trapped inside a lift of the state guest house here for around 40 minutes, an incident which triggered a blame game between the saffron party and the Nitish Kumar government which attributed it to overloading.
"The lift got stuck between the two floors and its metal doors also got jammed at around 11.30 PM last night. There was no lift operator around or person capable of handling such an emergency. The mobile phones of those trapped inside were also out of range as they were in a closed box," BJP state President Mangal Pandey said.
The incident happened when Shah was going from the ground floor of the state guest house to the first floor along with party in-charge for Bihar Bhupendra Yadav, Secretary Nagendra and General Secretary Saudan Singh and a couple of security personnel.
He was ultimately rescued by CRPF personnel who were present there as part of his Z+ security cover. They had to tear apart steel doors of the elevator to pull out Shah and other leaders trapped inside.
Shah left for New Delhi by flight this morning.
Slamming the state government for the incident, senior BJP leader C P Thakur said "conspiracy" cannot be ruled out.
"Rivals keep speaking ill against BJP and its chief throughout the day. Conspiracy cannot be ruled out in the incident," Thakur said.
The state BJP chief said, "It is a gross dereliction of duty by the people responsible for facilities at the state guest house. There was nobody present there to deal with such emergencies despite the fact that a person having Z+ security cover was staying there".
However, the state government dismissed the charge and attributed the incident to "overloading".
Principal Secretary Cabinet Coordination Shishir Sinha, who had visited the state guest house after the episode with Secretary Information and Public Relations Department Pratyay Amrit, said, "Prima facie overloading appears to be the cause of the incident."
"The lift at the state guest house is brand new with a total capacity of 340 kg. People accompanying Shah said more than five persons were in the lift at that time which apparently means there was more weight than the permissible limit," Sinha told PTI.
"Normally, four persons are permitted at a time to use this lift, but in the present case there was more weight than permitted because of which the lift got stuck 6 inches before the destination," he said.
The cabinet department principal secretary said the building construction department, which maintained the lift at the state guest house, had deployed engineers to restore its functioning.
The BJP President had come to Patna yesterday to participate in the function of a prominent Hindi daily and was staying at the state guest house.
Recounting the horror, Pandey said all attempts to open the doors of the lift failed. The caretaker of the place was not of much use in the situation and people waiting on the ground and first floors of the guest house became anxious about the condition of those trapped inside.
"Nothing worked and around 40 minutes passed. It was then that CRPF was asked to break open the doors. It did so and Shah and other leaders were rescued," Pandey said, adding "Once the doors were broken, the trapped persons came out".
He made a scathing attack on the Nitish Kumar government for "mismanagement" which resulted in the episode.
"The entire system seems to have collapsed in the state under present government," Pandey said.
Union Minister of State for Food Processing Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, who was here, suspected "conspiracy" and sought a probe into the incident.
"Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad would never succeed whatever they do against BJP leaders," she said.