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Indian home minister attends glittering Bollywood event hours after deadly bombings

Sushikumar Shinde photographed smiling with Bollywood actress at music launch of upcoming movie in Mumbai, as security forces scramble to investigate bombings.

NEW DELHI // India’s opposition has poured scorn on the minister responsible for security for attending a glittering Bollywood function hours after a string of bombs killed six people at an election rally.

Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde was photographed smiling with a Bollywood actress at the music launch of an upcoming movie in Mumbai on Sunday, as security forces scrambled to investigate the blasts.

Seven small bombs detonated shortly before Narendra Modi, a Hindu hardliner and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate, took to the stage in the city of Patna, killing six and injuring scores.

“It is shocking to find the home minister entertaining himself in a music function instead of monitoring the situation after the serial blasts,” BJP spokeswoman Nirmala Sitharaman told the Press Trust of India (PTI) late Monday.

A BJP leader, Kirti Azad, also slammed Mr Shinde, saying he had become a “laughing stock” across the country.

“You find him releasing music cassettes when innocent Indians were dying,” Mr Azad said.

The ruling Congress party leapt to Mr Shinde’s defence, with senior leader Salman Khurshid saying his colleague had a life too.

“Mr Shinde has a life beyond Patna,” Mr Khurshid told reporters, and criticised Mr Modi for going ahead with his speech after the blasts.

Mr Shinde has faced flak in the past for naming a rape victim, who was also a minor, in the nation’s parliament, contravening Indian laws which seek to protect the identity of sexual assault victims.

At the height of last year’s furore over the gang-rape of a student in Delhi, the minister also compared students protesting over the crime to Maoist insurgents.

* Agence France-Presse

Updated: October 29, 2013 04:00 AM

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