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Modi cancels Ganga Aarti in Varanasi, BJP protests

Posted on May 08 2014 | IBNS

Varanasi, May 8 : BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who is also fighting the polls from Varanasi, has cancelled his Ganga Aarti plans in the holy town amid a raging controversy and BJP anger over denying him permission to hold a rally by authorities. Modi also took on the Election Commission questioning its neutrality.

"My profound apologies to Ganga Maa for not being able to perform Aarti today. Wish these people know that a Mother's love is above politics," tweeted Modi on Thursday morning though reports said the Election Commission later permitted him to hold the aarti.

"I appeal to my Karyakarta sisters and brothers to maintain peace and ensure that people do not face any difficulty," he posted.

"It is unfortunate that EC is not concerned about the institution's neutrality and that is why our Karyakartas have to embark on a Satyagraha," he said with BJP workers hitting the streets with a protest.

EC said permission was given for two events of Modi but not a third one owing to security reasons. The EC said permission for the Ganga Aarti and a meeting at a hotel with 150 private citizens had been granted later by the District Magistrate

BJP reacted sharply on the issue.

BJP senior leader Arun Jaitley blogged: "I cannot conceal my disappointment with the Election Commission. Men in constitutional offices need to be bolder. Timid men can dwarf high offices. The Election Commission scrutinizes us all the time. They are extremely vigilant in tackling the side shows in the elections. They are concerned with what adjectives are used by whom. But when it comes to preventing booth capturing which has reappeared after a decade in elections 2014 they are out of their depth."

Earlier, hours after the Varanasi district administration on Wednesday cancelled a rally that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was scheduled to address on Thursday, senior party leader Arun Jaitley on Wednesday sought the transfer of the Returning Officer alleging him of being bias and also warned the Election Commission of a dharna.

"We have written to Chief Election Commissioner and requested that Returning Officer at Varanasi be changed because we are now certain of his biased behaviour. There are many programmes lined up for Modiji tomorrow," Jaitley said at a press conference.

"The Returning Officer is not allowing the PM nominee to hold a rally in his constituency. This is an attempt to interfere in free and fair elections. I regret to say that EC is a mute spectator in all this," he said alleging that "the district administration is lying about the IB (Intelligence Bureau) threat on Modi."

"They have asked us to change venue. If he is not safe in one venue, how can he be safe in another? Ganga Pujan was allowed for others including Arvind Kejriwal, but not for Modi, " Jaitley slammed.

Jaitley also announced that he along with BJP leader Amit Shah and other BJP workers will sit on a dharna outside the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) gate on Thursday at 11 am to protest against the biasses of the district administration.

In a series of letters, to the Chief Election Commissioner, Arun Jaitley earlier wrote: "I regret that I have not received any response, oral or written, from the Election Commission. Is the Election Commission acquiescing to this conduct of the Returning Officer? In case the Constitutional Remedy of approaching the Election Commission is not available to us, we will have no option but to protest on this issue."

Jaitley while addressing the media, said, "This is not a banana republic that a prime ministerial candidate is not allowed to address a meeting in his own constituency."

Modi's rally at Benia Bagh was cancelled as the local administration said the venue will not be able to handle a large crowd.

Modi was also denied Ganga Pujan (worshipping of river Ganga) at Benia Bagh but reports said he was later permitted to offer aarti.

He will now visit the local party office at Varanasi.

Polling in Varanasi will be held on May 12.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal is contesting the Lok Sabha polls from the Varanasi seat against Modi.

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