Amid all-out attack by BJP, the Election Commission on Friday said permission to Narendra Modi's rally in Varanasi city was denied after Gujarat police said the venue was not suitable but regretted the "delay" in conveying the decision to the party concerned.
A Gujarat police official, who was part of the Advance Security Liasion team of BJP's prime ministerial candidate, had "indicated" that the chosen ground for holding the rally was not a "desirable" place for the VIP to attend, Election Commissioner HS Brahma said in New Delhi.
The Gujarat police official said it would "not be possible" to hold a rally at the venue as it was "highly congested" and "complicated", Brahma said during an interaction with Indian Women Press Corps.
Modi, who is contesting from Varanasi, was to address the rally in Benia Bagh area of the city yesterday but the district authorities denied permission citing security reasons.
Describing the permission issue as "purely an operational problem", Brahma said, "You are entitled to take a decision under law. You have a right and duty to take a decision."
However, at the same time, he said, "the person has a right to know yes or no... It should be communicated in an appropriate time. My only point is that there should be no delay in saying a yes or no." Terming the entire episode as "unfortunate", the Commissioner said things "should not have escalated" to a level that it comes to the central poll body.
Brahma said that since Varanasi was a VIP constituency and the authorities were dealing with "a very important" personality, the decisions should have been conveyed fast so that issues do not crop up.
The authorities should be "prompt" and quicken the process, he said, adding "if you take 20 minutes normally, you should, may be take 10 mins or 5 mins."
Talking further about the Varanasi incident, Brahma said as human beings, "courtesy demands that if someone speaks to you, you should give time and you should talk."
He added, "When things can get solved at local Thanedaar (SHO) or Tehsildaar level why do you escalate to that (EC) level? If someone approaches you with a genuine request...my opinion is that let your opinion be known to the person promptly."
The Election Commissioner was also asked about remarks being made about the EC that it was biased in taking certain decisions.
"We should be open to criticism and we should be ready to accept suggestions..this is how the system improves," he replied.
He also said the Election Commission was "mentally and physically prepared to accept fault".
On words like "timid" used against the EC, Brahma said these were "subjective" in nature.
He also rejected suggestions that there were differences amongst the three commissioners. The CEC is VS Sampath and besides Brahma, Nasim Zaidi is another Commissioner.
"How can we be divided? We are too small a group to be divided. We are old fellows, retired chaps," Brahma quipped.
To a question on the issue of appointment of the new Army Chief which has been referred to the EC by the Defence Ministry, Brahma said "it will happen. I am only one-third (in the full EC). There are two others."