BJP rejects alternative venue for Modi’s rally, to hold ‘dharna’ in Varanasi on Thursday

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Arun_JaitleyAccusing the returning officer of being biased towards the BJP, senior party leader Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday that they would sit on a ‘dharna’ to protest against the permission being denied to Narendra Modi for holding rally in the temple city.

Addressing the press, 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 also written to Chief Election Commissioner.

“I am disappointed that the EC has not acted,” Jaitley said.

The district magistrate is serving as electoral officer for Varanasi Lok Sabha polls.

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.

The BJP also rejected an alternative venue offered by the EC, saying it was too small for holding a rally. “Only 2000 people can be accommodated in it,” Jaitley said.

He also informed the press that they would protest tomorrow outside BHU campus at 10 am 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.

Meanwhile, Modi will land in Varanasi tomorrow and go to the party headquarters if he is not allowed to hold the rally.

Modi, who was scheduled to hold two rallies here on Thursday, was denied permission for the rallies by the district authorities. The Gujarat CM has also not been granted permission for participating in ‘Ganga Aarti’ and hold a meeting with 150 prominent Varanasi citizens at a banquet hall in a hotel.

Modi is 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.

Top officials, however, sought to blame the delay in approval to non-receipt of ground report from security agencies and said a final decision could be taken by evening.

They claimed that the request for the rally in Beniya Bagh area here was received yesterday only.

They said that the district administration was waiting for the ground report from the police and local intelligence unit and a final decision on approval for the rally would be taken thereafter.

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.