Zee Media Bureau
Lucknow: A day ahead of the crucial and final phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, the local police and election authorities on Sunday conducted a search operation at Bharatiya Janata Party office in Varanasi, but within hours closed the case.
“They (BJP) were going to distribute badges, pamphlets and BJP Tshirts, campaign officially over therefore this is illegal,” Layak Singh of a flying Squad said.
A flying squad of the state police and EC swooped down on the party office amid a ban on all election campaign activities since last evening for the polls, where BJP`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is pitted against AAP`s Arvind Kejriwal and Congress` Ajay Rai among others.
Officials said that the action was taken to seize election campaign material as it had got information about such items being sent in large quantity from the BJP office here in the Sigra locality, despite a ban on poll campaign in place.
BJP leaders, however, claimed that these were unused campaign material and the party was not indulging in any campaign activities.
District Magistrate Pranjal Yadav and Special Election Observer Pravin Kumar later told reporters that the Election Commission has decided to close the case as the material was not being used for campaigning, PTI reported.
These items were not being distributed among prospective voters, the officials said.
When asked whether such action would be taken against other parties also, Yadav said that the raid was conducted as per information received by a flying squad and action would be taken on all such information.
The seized items included T-shirts, pamphlets, badges, officials said, while adding that they found these products being transported from the BJP office.
The party leaders countered this with claims that the unused products were being returned to their respective manufacturers.
They alleged that the latest incident further proves the administration and election authorities` "partisan" approach against BJP and linked the raid to the local administration`s denial of permission to Modi`s rally here on May 8.
Nearly 16 lakh voters will decide tomorrow the most high-profile contest of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, where BJP`s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is facing a triangular fight in this holy city mythologically known to be stationed on Lord Shiva`s trident.
Modi is being challenged by Aam Aadmi Party`s Arvind Kejriwal, who says that Modi can`t become Prime Minister if he gets defeated from Varanasi, while Congress` Ajay Rai is banking on his "son of the soil" image in what he calls a contest with `Siberian birds`.
BJP, on the other hand, is confident of a record win for Modi in a constituency which has been a saffron bastion for over two decades now, while it expects the `Modi wave` and his projection as Prime Ministerial candidate to further widen the margin of victory.
The irony is that local issues have been put on back burner here and the contest is totally focussed on Modi, although the locals are grappling with a number of civic problems including pollution in the holy Ganga -- the mainstay for Banaras due to religious, tourism and other reasons.
BJP has made it battle of prestige, almost all other parties seem to be fighting this election to defeat Modi.
BJP says its main election issue remains development and good governance, though the campaign has mainly focussed on Modi. The other parties including AAP and Congress have been seeking votes against Modi and his "saffron politics".
With agency inputs