Varanasi turns flash point as Modi denied rally permission

Tags: News
Hotly-contested Vara­nasi on Wednesday turned into a flash point after BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi was refused permission to hold rallies on Thursday while the election commission cleared Rahul Gandhi’s road show on May 10. The district administration has also refused Modi permission to offer prayers at Assi Ghat. Incidentally AAP boss, Arvind Kejriwal, candidate in Varanasi, had recently held “aarti” at the same ghat.

This has raised heckles in the saffron camp with top party leaders, Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah, planning to organise protests and sit on a dharna outside Benaras Hindu University (BHU).

While Varanasi continues to boil, there’s an apprehension in the Congress that victory margin of Rahul Gandhi, which was 3.7 lakhs in 2009, might reduce by nearly 1.5 lakhs or more. Speculations are rife that while Muslims had shifted to AAP, a large chunk of Yadavs in Amethi shifted towards Bharatiya Janata Party .

The reason for not allowing Modi’s rally on the grounds that Beniya Bagh was overcrowded and could be a “security threat” for Modi, drew strong response from the Bharatiya Janata Party .

Leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, who is not known to lose his composure, called the returning officer (RO) “pliant” and “partisan.” An angry Jaitley demanded removal of the RO and accused the election commissioner of being a “silent spectator.”

Bharatiya Janata Party leaders also said that the RO also cancelled BJP’s demand for an alternate venue at Broad Road. The party also ridiculed EC’s claim that it had allowed BJP to hold a rally at Cutter Memorial. “ Look at the crowd Modi draws. Why should we seek permission to hold a rally where you cannot accommodate more than 2,000 people,” Jaitley said.

However, the BJP is all set to turn the crisis into an advantage as Modi after holding a rally on the outskirts of Varanasi at Rohania will land at the BHU helipad around 3 pm and then approach the party office in a cavalcade. The BJP is all set to turn this into another road show by Modi. Yet again there is a possibility of Varanasi turning into a sea of saffron. Some feel that the move to create hurdles could boomerang on Samajwadis and Congress. “Modi’s visit to the party office will be bigger than any rally,” Jaitley said.

The Congress on the other hand thought it would be prudent to send Rahul rather than Priyanka to Varanasi. Sending Priyanka to Varanasi could have undermined Rahul in the organisation.

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