New Delhi, May 8 IBNS | 3 months ago

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including Ravi Shankar Prasad, on Thursday staged a demonstration outside the Election Commission (EC) office in New Delhi against denial of permission to the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's rally in Varanasi constituency of Uttar Pradesh.


A delegation of BJP leaders also reportedly submitted a memorandum to the EC in this regard.

"Modi has been campaigning all over the country. Nobody stopped him. But now he is not getting permission to campaign in his own constituency," Prasad told reporters.

"We are protesting against this injustice. We are being denied our democratic right," he said.

Meanwhile, in Varanasi, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley and the party's UP in-charge Amit Shah joined the protest outside the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) campus as more and more people kept pouring in to join the demonstration.

Slamming Modi, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Thursday said the Gujarat Chief Minister is politicising the Ganga Aarti ritual.

"Narendra Modi has always been communal. He is trying to spread communalism in Uttar Pradesh too by politicising the Ganga Aarti puja. The drama in Varanasi is a proof of this," said Mayawati.

"The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) is also involved in this. This way the SP and the BJP are trying to to intimidate Muslim voters in the Poorvanchal region," said the former UP chief minister.

Earlier in the day, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal lashed out at Modi and said the latter did not require the Election Commission (EC)'s permission to perform Ganga Aarti in Varanasi.

He said the Gujarat Chief Minister was already given permission to perform the Ganga Aarti and that he is trying to politicise the issue.

"Modi ji given permission of Ganga arti. Yet rather than performing arti, he is trying to draw political mileage. Sad," Kejriwal said on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Posting a scanned image of the permission letter, Kejriwal tweeted: "Here is EC's Permission to Modi ji for Ganga Arti. Then why doesn't he just go and perform arti? Why politicise it?"

"Agar apko kewal arti aur pujan karna ho to EC ki permission nahi chahiye hoti. U need EC permission for political activities," he said.

He said nobody stopped him when he went to perform the aarti recently.

"I went alone one day and performed arti. No one stopped me. I will again go with my wife today and do arti. Neeyat saaf honi chahiye," the former Delhi Chief Minister said.

Inviting Modi for an open debate, Kejriwal said the BJP has become nervous out of the fear of its defeat.

"I invite Mr Modi for an open discussion on a public platform. Let Kashi people ask straight questions from both of us. Time place his choice," tweeted Kejriwal.

"BJP top brass landed in Kashi. Shows their nervousness. Will they be able to save Modi ji from defeat?" he said.

Modi, who is also fighting the polls from Varanasi, 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 & brothers to maintain peace & ensure that people do not face any difficulty," he posted.

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

The 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

The 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."

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.

Kejriwal is contesting the Lok Sabha polls from the Varanasi seat against Modi.

(Posted on 08-05-2014)