BJP calls off Advani’s Azamgarh rally,blames dist admn

Three days before the launch of the BJP’s election campaign in Gorakhpur,uncertainty hangs over the meetings of the party’s prime ministerial candidate....

Suman K Jha & Alka Pandenew Delhi/lucknow | Published:March 26, 2009 1:12 am

Three days before the launch of the BJP’s election campaign in Gorakhpur,uncertainty hangs over the meetings of the party’s prime ministerial candidate. L K Advani’s first rally in Azamgarh on March 28 has been called off,and till Wednesday evening it was uncertain if the other two rallies he is scheduled to address that day would go ahead. Local party leaders were accusing the district administration of creating hurdles in the campaign.

Following the launch of the campaign in Azamgarh,Advani was scheduled to speak in Maharajganj and Kushinagar. But the BJP has so far got permission for only Maharajganj,though at a different venue than requested by the party.

All three districts go to polls in the first phase on April 16.

The BJP said the UP administration cancelled their requests for “as many as three alternative venues” in Azamgarh on the ground of security. “They (the district administration) refused to grant us the permission to hold the rally at three alternative venues. IPL was earlier cancelled on the security ground. Is that what the country is coming to,” said BJP spokesperson Balbir Punj in New Delhi on Wednesday.

In Lucknow,Azamgarh district BJP president Vinod Rai said,“The district administration had been fooling us on the selection of the venue for 4-5 days.” “Eventually,they told us that the rally cannot be held during the filing of nominations which will carry on till March 30.” He alleged that the administration had sent a “confidential report to the Intelligence Bureau” and that permission had been denied on the “pretext of law and order”.

The Azamgrah administration had a different version,though. “We refused the permission for the first venue (Bhairon Nath temple) because of the uneven surface that would have made the landing of the chopper difficult. The power cables passing through the area,too,made the venue unsuitable,” District Magistrate G S Priyadarshi told The Indian Express. “Last evening,a consensus evolved on Hafizpur,but the party did not give its request in writing,” he added.

He denied he had sent any report to anyone in this connection. According to him,the permission can be given even now provided the party makes a written request.

The BJP candidate from Azamgarh,Ramakant Yadav,was said to be specifically interested in holding the rally at the Bhairon Nath temple. “This was the ideal venue for both the rural and urban voters here,” Yadav told The Indian Express.

Priyadarshi claimed that “while the BJP leaders did go to one alternative venue,they didn’t apply for the venue in writing”.

Yogi Adityanath and Yadav were to accompany Advani for the rally. Some of the recent terror attacks in the country have been traced to this district. Yadav,who was inducted into the BJP about a year and a half ago,had threatened to “turn the district into a mini-Gujarat during a by-election last year”. Azamgarh is known for its mixed demographic profile.

Priyadarshi’s counterpart in Kushinagar,Sudhir Kumar Srivastav,claimed the BJP hadn’t approached him for permission to organise the rally.

“When and where is this rally supposed to take place?” Srivastav asked. “If they have to organise any rally they should submit a request. No such request has come to me so far,but you can confirm it with the SDM,” he told The Indian Express.

SDM Jagdish Singh,however,confirmed that he had indeed received a request and had asked the local police to submit a report. “A decision will be taken only when the report is received,” Singh said.

Maharajganj DM Vinaya Kumar Srivastava told The Indian Express that permission had been denied only for the stadium which,according to a Government order,cannot be used for anything except sport. “But they have been permitted to hold their programme at the degree college ground in the town.”

Accusing the “hostile state Government” of having made the election campaign difficult in the state,BJP organising secretary for Uttar Pradesh Nagendra said,“Our senior leader Kalraj Mishra was denied permission to fly from Mainpuri to Mathura for the BJP-RLD rally,where he was to receive central BJP leaders.

The BJP was said to be contemplating moving the Election Commission on the “obstructions being created by the state Government”.

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