Zee Media Bureau
Varanasi: Accusing the returning officer of being biased towards the BJP, senior party leader Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday that they would sit on a `dharna` here to protest against the permission being denied to Narendra Modi for holding rally in the temple city.
Addressing the press here, Jaitley said, “The returning officer is biased and he should immediately be sent back.” He also said that he had spoken to the Election Commission about it and had written to Chief Election Commissioner.
“I am disappointed that the EC has not acted,” Jaitley said.
The district magistrate Pranjal Yadav is serving as electoral officer for Varanasi Lok Sabha polls. He said late in the night said he has given the nod to four of the five events for which BJP sought permission. The party, however, rejected the gesture saying it came too late in the day.
Pranjal Yadav told the media late this evening that no permission was given to BJP`s rally at a crowed area in the central part of the city.
However, permission has been given for Modi attending the `Ganga Aarti` in the evening at one of the ghats of Varanasi, Yadav said.
BJP had sought permission for five events, out of which nod was given for four, including a meeting with 150 citizens of the city at a hotel, which was earlier denied, Yadav said.
On the issue of IB reportedly sending alert to the local administration in Varanasi about threat to Modi, Jaitley said that as per his information it was a lie.
He also informed the press that they would protest tomorrow morning in the holy city against the high-handedness of the returning officer.
“I, Amit Shah and other party workers will protest against permission denied to Modi for holding rally in Varanasi,” the BJP leader said.
Amit Shah is BJP`s in-charge of Uttar Pradesh.
Jaitley wrote three missives to the Election Commission questioning whether the EC was acquiescing to the conduct of the Returning Officer.
In his fourth letter, he announced the party`s intention to call off all Modi`s programmes in the temple city except a visit to the main office after his rally in Rohaniya on the outskirts.
"Under the circumstances, the BJP would not be organising any of the three functions in Varanasi tomorrow.
"We will be holding a protest both in Varanasi and in front of your office at 11 am tomorrow. For that action we do not require your permission," the BJP leader wrote.
"Narendra Modi when he arrives in Varanasi city, will be going to the election office and then to the airport. He will be in his unusual motorcade," Jaitley said.
In his letter, Jaitley said that even if the permission is now granted at this late hour, there was no opportunity to advertise the rally.
A copy of the letter was sent to the Returning Officer
also with "a request that he may not process any of the permissions" the BJP had sought.
The Election Commission, however, rejected the BJP charges saying it does not accept insinuation of inaction or bias and promised action against any officer acting partisan.
"The Commission does not accept insinuation of inaction or bias in this regard. If any officer is found wanting or working in a partisan manner or not discharging his duty, the Commission will take appropriate, strict action against the officer," Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi said in Delhi.
The Returning Officer also maintained that permission has been given to Modi to hold his rally at an alternative site on the basis of an application given by a BJP leader.
But Jaitley rejected his claim saying BJP has not made any request for an alternative site. "We are not out of our mind to seek permission for a meeting of our Prime Ministerial candidate at a place which can accommodate only 2,000 persons," he said.
Modi was scheduled to hold a public meeting at Beniya Bagh area tomorrow evening, after another rally in Rohania, a rural Assembly constituency outside the main Varanasi city but within the Lok Sabha constituency.
The permission was being held back for Beniya Bagh on the grounds that it was very crowded and unfit for holding rallies, officials said, while adding that the administration had also got certain requests from the general public for not allowing rallies in such areas due to security risks, PTI reported.
Varanasi goes to polls on May 12 and the campaigning will end on May 10 evening here.
Modi is pitted against AAP`s Arvind Kejriwal and Congress` Ajay Rai.
On a day Modi was denied permission, Congress sources said Rahul Gandhi will hold a roadshow here on May 10, returning the compliment to Modi for his rally in Amethi on Monday. An application has been filed with poll authorities.
With PTI inputs