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Modi slams EC for bias, appeals BJP workers ‘to maintain peace’ during Varanasi dharna

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The Election Commission has expressed “surprise” and “disappointment” over the Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to hold protests against denial of permission to its prime ministerial pick Narendra Modi for a rally in Varanasi’s Beniyabagh area on Thursday.Hours ahead of his “protest” roadshow in Varanasi, Narendra Modi 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: “I appeal to my Karyakarta sisters & brothers to maintain peace & ensure that people do not face any difficulty.”

He also tweeted: “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 is contesting from the seat, which goes to polls on May 12. The BJP had written to chief election commissioner VS Sampath and demanded the removal of the electoral officer, district magistrate Pranjal Yadav.

In a letter to senior BJP leader Arun 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”.

Principal secretary in the EC, RK Srivastava, said while earlier a BJP representative Vidyasagar Rai had requested for an alternative site on May 6, Jaitley later urged the returning officer not to process the permission.

“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.

The letter said the Commission has given prompt attention to any issue raised by political parties, including BJP, over the ongoing elections.

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