NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi, India’s opposition leader and scion of the political Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, had an explosion scare after balloons at a political roadshow burst into flames near his vehicle, police said Sunday (Oct 7).
Gandhi, head of the main opposition Congress party, was leading the campaign event in Madhya Pradesh state when the bunch of balloons held one political worker touched oil lamps held by another.
Leaders on top of the campaign vehicle including Gandhi, 48, can be seen reeling back at the sudden ball of fire in a video that has gone viral on social media.
“We have checked. There was no security breach or real scare for anyone. No one received even minor injuries,” local police chief Amit Singh told AFP.
“The people carrying the celebratory campaign balloons and lamps as a mark of respect for the leader are Congress party activists, and it was just a minor accident,” Singh added.
The Nehru-Gandhi family has dominated Indian politics since independence from Britain in 1947, when Jawaharlal Nehru became the country’s first prime minister.
The dynasty has produced three prime ministers and a member of the family has been in charge of the country for nearly 50 of the 71 years since independence.
In 1984, Nehru’s only daughter Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards when she was prime minister.
She had groomed her younger son Sanjay to be her political heir, but he was killed in 1980 when the small plane he was piloting crashed.
Her eldest son Rajiv – father of Rahul – reluctantly took over her political mantle, and served as prime minister from 1984 to 1989. He too was assassinated in 1991.
Rahul is facing questions over his leadership after a string of electoral setbacks for Congress since 2014.
But he hopes to silence his critics in five state votes in November and December ahead of general elections due in 2019 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will run for a second term.