EC `disappointed` over BJP`s decision to hold protests over Varanasi rally ban

The Election Commission of India said it was "disappointed" over BJP`s decision to hold protests after it denied permission to its prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi to hold a rally today in Varanasi where he is contesting his second Lok Sabha seat though allowing the other events.

Last Updated: May 08, 2014, 08:18 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The Election Commission of India on Thursday said it was "disappointed" over BJP`s decision to hold protests after it denied permission to its prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi to hold a rally today in Varanasi where he is contesting his second Lok Sabha seat though allowing the other events.

Responding to BJP leader Arun Jaitley`s claim that the EC has failed his party, the Election Commission said: "The Commission is surprised and disappointed that your party has chosen to hold protests over the aforesaid matter, which was being sought to be resolved in accordance with law and the ground situation. As you may be aware, permissions for two out of the three programmes have since been issued by the District Magistrate. As regards the holding of a rally, the same was under discussion because of security and related concerns. In this whole matter, the commission decided not to go by the version conveyed by District Magistrate alone, but also consulted the state chief Secretary and Director General of Police, who endorsed the security and suitability aspects."
The BJP on Wednesday announced that Modi would visit Varanasi on 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.

Modi was to address election rallies in Varanasi, performing a `Ganga Aarti` and attend a get-together to interact with 150 prominent citizens. In a late night development, the district administration allowed the `Ganga Aarti` 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 today.

Jaitley said Modi would reach Varanasi on 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.

Jaitley said the election authorities were verbally informed on May 05 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.

(With Agency inputs)