Facing the prospect of protests from the BJP over the issue of denial of permissions to Narendra Modi to hold rallies in Varanasi, the Election Commission, in a late night communication to party leader Arun Jaitley, said that it cannot overlook the “security concerns” in the matter and also expressed surprise and disappointment at the party’s decision to hold protests on the matter, which it said was being dealt with as per the “ground situation”.
The EC told Jaitley that “permissions for two out of the three programmes: ‘Ganga Poojan’ and ‘Meeting of eminent citizens'” had since been issued by the District Magistrate. “As regards the third event i.e. the holding of a rally, the same was under discussion because of security and related concerns”.
“You would appreciate that matter like grant of permission for rallies; meetings etc. are dealt with at the level of District Magistrate Returning officer and not directly by the Election Commission,” the EC wrote to Jaitley. It also said that BJP’s local representative, Vidyasagar Rai had already requested for an alternative site on May 6, “which was given on 7th May 2014 though you later requested the Returning Officer not to process the permissions”.
“In this whole matter, the Commission decided not to go by the version conveyed by Dlstrict Magistrate/RO alone, but also consulted the state Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, 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,” EC Principal Secretary R K Srivastava wrote to Jaitley. The communication was made public post-midnight on May 7.
Drawing Jaitley’s attention to “the fact that any past and current grievances presented by your party or any political party in connection with the ongoing elections have always been given prompt consideration”, the EC said that it “is surprised and disappointed that your party has chosen to hold protests over the aforesaid matter, which was being sought to be resolved in accordance with law and the ground situation”.
Stating that “commission has been in the process of ascertaining full facts and was due to respond to your letters at the earliest possible”, the EC told Jaitley that “this has been done even as the commission was busy transacting heavy work on poll day today”.