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Denial of permission for Modi rally infuriates BJP.

New Delhi: In a day full of dramatic developments, the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was finally granted permission to address two rallies in Varanasi on Thursday after local authorities initially refused permission for one of them.

The local administration was reluctant to allow Modi to address a rally in the Muslim majority Beniabagh area within the city limits as the area is congested and is considered communally sensitive.

A furious BJP knocked on the doors of the Election Commission and accused the Uttar Pradesh government of being behind the unparalleled decision where a candidate is denied opportunity to appeal to his voters.

"The effort of the returning officer is to prevent Modi from campaigning in Varanasi city," senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said.

Jaitley termed the decision as unprecedented and unheard of, while demanding removal of the returning officer.

However, by the evening the confusion was over as the administration granted permission for holding the two rallies at Beniabagh and Rohaniya.

Modi is contesting Varanasi seat that votes on May 12 in the last of the nine-phased polling. It will be his second and probably last visit to Varanasi after a massive road-show that he led on the day he filed his nomination.

Besides addressing the two rallies, one each in urban and rural areas, he is scheduled to attend the famous rti (prayer) on the banks of the river Ganga in the evening.

UP campaign

Modi had originally planned to spend four days in Varanasi. The idea was, however, aborted as the BJP think tank felt it would give a wrong signal that its prime ministerial candidate was not confident about his victory. Modi will continue campaigning in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal where polling for the remaining 41 seats take place on Monday. Modi is being challenged by the m dmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal and the Congress party nominee Ajay Rai.

While the Varanasi administration's reluctance in allowing Modi to address a rally in a communally sensitive area where riots had taken place in 1991 was understandable, the excuse offered by them was far from convincing.

The BJP in its complaint to the EC said that while the local administration was informed about Modi's twin rallies on Monday itself, it was informed on Wednesday that the venue had been booked by one Khan who wanted to put up the national flag there at the same time as sought for Modi's rally.

Modi's twin rallies are seen as key in motivating voters in all 18 Lok Sabha seats of eastern Uttar Pradesh. One of the reasons Modi opted to contest Varanasi seat was to create greater impact in the eastern Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Bihar.

Modi is contesting from two seats. Besides Varanasi, he is a candidate from Vadodra seat in his home state Gujarat and is expected to retain Varanasi, if he wins both, keeping in mind the interests of the BJP in India's most populous and politically crucial state Uttar Pradesh.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:May 8, 2014
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