Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley once again criticised the Election Commission on Thursday over its denial of permission to Narendra Modi's rally in Varanasi by raking up Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's road show in Varanasi.
BJP candidate for Amritsar's parliamentary seat Arun Jaitley speaks during an election campaign event in Amritsar. (AFP photo)
He also expressed his disappointment with the poll panel. "Men in constitutional offices need to be bolder. Timid men can dwarf high offices," he wrote on Thursday.
The BJP had accused the EC on Wednesday of being a "mute spectator" to returning officer and Varanasi district magistrate Pranjal Yadav's "highly partisan" role in denying permission for the rally and demanded his immediate removal.
"By condoning the Returning Officer’s stand on ‘No-Modi rally’ in Varanasi city the Election Commission has used the security card to prevent Narendra Modi’s right to campaign in his constituency," Jaitley wrote on Thursday.
"Rahul Gandhi can have a road show in Varanasi but Narendra Modi cannot have a rally. The security card is selectively used," he added.
Modi too tweeted on Thursday, "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 also appealed to his party workers to maintain peace so that people do not face any difficulty.
"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," Modi wrote.
Jaitley had announced on Wednesday he and other senior leaders would sit on a dharna outside the Banaras Hindu University at 11am on Thursday in protest. The BJP leaders will also protest outside the EC office in New Delhi.
In a letter to Jaitley on Wednesday, the EC said the protests were announced despite the poll body trying to resolve the matter "in accordance with law and the ground situation".
"In the whole matter, the Commission decided not to go by the version conveyed by the district magistrate alone, but consulted the UP chief secretary and the DGP, who endorsed the security and suitability aspects including capacity of the ground, raised by the district officials.
"You will appreciate that the Commission cannot overlook the security concerns expressed by competent authorities," the letter said.
In his blog, Jaitley asked the panel to "provide a level playing field".
Despite EC's letter to Jaitley over he pointed out to the "falsehood of the returning officer".
"If the Election Commission chooses to believe such a Returning Officer and feels that this is not a denial of opportunity to campaign, my right to Satyragrah begins. The Election Commission now condones the guilt of the Returning Officer," he said.
Jailtley accused the returning officer as well as officials of the Uttar Pradesh government of being "nominees of the people who want to prevent Modi".
The DM, however, late on Wednesday allowed Modi to attend a 'Ganga pujan' ceremony at the Dashashwamedh Ghat in the temple town. Yadav also approved Modi's meeting at Surya Hotel with 150 eminent persons of the society and a public meeting at the Chota Cutting memorial ground.
Modi is contesting from the Beniyabagh seat, which goes to polls on May 12.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said by denying permission to Modi's rally, the poll body has "surrendered" before the Uttar Pradesh government.
Javadekar said the EC was "defending the indefensible" and demanded Varanasi DM Yadav's transfer calling his action in this regard as "absolutely wrong".
Meanwhile, BJP workers protested against the EC move in Varanasi and Delhi.