Narendra Modi denied permission for Varanasi Events
Varanasi: Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, has been refused permission for three events tomorrow within the city limits of Varanasi, from where he is contesting his first parliamentary election. His party has reacted sharply, saying that Mr Modi has effectively been "banned from the city" and warning that it will hold large protests tomorrow fronted by senior leader Arun Jaitley.
The three events - a rally, a puja on the banks of the Ganga, and a meeting with citizens in a five-star hotel - were planned well in advance, says the BJP. In two different letters to the Election Commission, the BJP has asked that the official who denied the permission must be recalled immediately for demonstrating blatant "bias."
The BJP says that no clear reason has been given for refusing permission for the "Ganga aarti" that Mr Modi was to perform. For the rally, the party says it has been given different reasons - first it was told that the same venue had been booked by a "Mr Khan" who wanted to put up the national flag there. Then it was told that there were intelligence alerts that made the venue unsuitable for Mr Modi's address to a large crowd.
The UP administration claims it had asked the BJP to pick a different venue for the rally as the public park that has been selected can hold 40,000 people but a much larger audience is expected for the BJP's star campaigner.
Last month, Mr Modi held a spectacular roadshow in Varanasi while filing his nomination papers. Tomorrow's events would have been instrumental in motivating voters to support him not just in Varanasi, but in the 17 other parliamentary constituencies of UP that will also vote on May 12, the final of nine phases of voting in a mammoth election. Results will be counted on May 16.
Opinion polls show that the BJP, led by Mr Modi, will win the maximum seats in the election, and the Congress is staring at possibly its worst performance ever. more