Narendra Modi Roadshow in Varanasi Tomorrow in Retaliation for “Ban” on Events

Written by | May 7, 2014 | 0

Varanasi: Varanasi, the most hotly contested territory in this election, shot into a flashpoint today between the Election Commission and the BJP after the party’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, was refused permission for three events tomorrow. A seething BJP said this amounts to a ban on Mr Modi in his own constituency, which votes on May 12.

After a series of written protests today to the Election Commission, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said he has asked that the applications for permission not to be processed because it is now too late to advertise Mr Modi’s events. He will lead demonstrations tomorrow morning outside the Benares Hindu University. Since Mr Modi is not being allowed to hold a rally, he will land at the university’s helipad and then travel by road to the party’s headquarters to meet with workers. (Read: Arun Jaitley’s letter to the Election Commission)

The Election Commission’s representative, Returning Officer Pranjal Yadav, claimed earlier today that the BJP had agreed to a new venue for Mr Modi’s rally. Demanding the removal of Mr Yadav for blatant “bias”, Mr Jaitley asked, “Are we out of our mind to ask for a venue that can hold only 2,000 people?” (Watch: ‘Don’t need permission to drive on Varanasi’s roads’)

The Election Commission replied that it does not accept “insinuations of bias” and promised action if “if any officer is found wanting or working in a partisan manner.”

Apart from the rally, Mr Modi was meant to hold a prayer on the banks of the Ganga and meet with a group of 150 citizens at a luxury hotel.

The BJP says it has been given no written explanations for the refusal of permissions. For the rally, the party says first it was told that the same venue had been booked by an NGO; then it was told that intelligence alerts warned Mr Modi should not address a large audience here.

In his first parliamentary election, Mr Modi is running against Arvind Kejriwal, the head of the Aam Aadmi Party, and Ajay Rai of the Congress.

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