Modi's Varanasi rally spiked, BJP on warpath

Varanasi/New Delhi, May 8: The BJP Wednesday declared war on the Election Commission after it denied permission to its prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi to hold a rally Thursday in Varanasi where he is contesting his second Lok Sabha seat though allowing the other events.

The Bharatiya Janata Party announced that Modi wouldvisit Varanasi Thursday and his motorcade would go from the Banaras Hindu University to the BJP's election headquarters from where he would leave for the airport.

The BJP said it was aghast that Modi was not being allowed to hold his event in his own Lok Sabha constituency, and blamed the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh for the mess.

"It must be for the first time in Indian elections that a candidate is being denied permission to hold rally in his own constituency," party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said in New Delhi.

Modi was to address election rallies in Varanasi, performing a Ganga 'arti' and attend a get-together to interact with 150 prominent citizens. In a late night development, the district administration allowed the Ganga 'arti' and the interaction event at a hotel.

A furious BJP sought the removal of Varanasi's top election official for "partiality". Even after the permission was given for two events, it said it will go on with its protests.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley said he and senior party colleagues including Amit Shah will stage a protest against the Election Commission outside the Lanka Gate of the BHU Thursday.

Jaitley said Modi would reach Varanasi Thursday and, if not granted permission for the programmes, his motorcade would go from the BHU to the BJP election headquarters and then to the airport.

"We are sure ... the returning officer is not impartial. What pains me is that the Election Commission did not take any action despite our complaints," Jaitley said in Varanasi. "This is not a banana republic," he added.

In New Delhi, BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the party was urging the Election Commission to recall Varanasi District Magistrate Pranjal Yadav for being biased against Modi.

The BJP also vowed to protest outside the Election Commission office in New Delhi.

Jaitley said the election authorities were verbally informed May 5 about two Modi rallies in Rohaniya and Beniyabagh. Rohaniya is a rural area on Varanasi's outskirts. Beniyabagh in Varanasi city is known for political rallies.

Election officials in Varanasi cited unexplained security reasons for cancelling Modi's events.

Jaitley also said that 27 BJP workers were arrested while distributing pamphlets and were kept in custody for two and a half days, affecting the party's campaign.

A district official said Beniyabagh was a "problem" as an NGO has been given permission for an event the same day.

A district official told IANS that the capacity of one of the rally venues was 40,000 while intelligence inputs indicated that Modi would draw more than one lakh people.

The meeting with intellectuals at a hotel was denied permission as Modi's cavalcade would pass through the city amid "serious security threat to him".


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