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Modi Denied Permission For all Events in Varanasi Tomorrow

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Varanasi – Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, has been denied permission for three events tomorrow in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, from where he is contesting his first parliamentary election. His party has reacted sharply, saying Mr Modi has effectively been “banned from the city”.

The BJP has blamed Varanasi’s Returning Officer and threatened protests, likely to be led by senior leader Arun Jaitley, if the restrictions are not withdrawn by evening.

BJP leaders say Mr Modi has been refused permission to perform a “Ganga Aarti” and also to meet 150 prominent Varanasi residents. He also can’t address a public meeting in Varanasi’s city limits, though there is no such restriction on another rally organized in the rural parts of the city.

The party questioned why Arvind Kejriwal was allowed to perform a Ganga Aarti in March and Mr Modi has been denied permission.

“This is unprecedented and unheard of, and the party will not take it lying down,” said Mr Jaitley.

In a letter to the Election Commission, Mr Jaitley said the BJP had informed the Returning Officer on Monday about the rallies and sent a written application, but was told only yesterday that the venue in the city had been booked by one “Mr Khan” who wanted to put up the national flag there. The official also allegedly cited intelligence alerts to refuse the BJP’s request.

The UP administration claims they had asked the BJP to pick a different venue as the one they wanted was meant for just 40,000, and a larger crowd could endanger Mr Modi’s security.

Last month, Mr Modi held a spectacular roadshow in Varanasi while filing his nomination papers. His rallies tomorrow would be seen as instrumental in motivating voters to support him not just in Varanasi, but in the 17 other parliamentary constituencies of UP that will also vote on May 12, the final of nine phases of voting in a mammoth election. Results will be counted on May 16.

Opinion polls show that the BJP, led by Mr Modi, will win the maximum seats in the election, and the Congress is staring at possibly its worst performance ever.

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