This Article is From May 08, 2014

Narendra Modi Apologises to 'Ganga Maa', Takes on Election Commission

Narendra Modi Apologises to 'Ganga Maa', Takes on Election Commission

Narendra Modi (C) waves to supporters during a roadshow in Varanasi last month.

New Delhi: The BJP's showdown with the Election Commission is expected to peak today over the party's prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, being refused permission for a large rally in the heart of Varanasi, from where he is contesting his first parliamentary election.

This morning, Mr Modi tweeted that "It is unfortunate that EC is not concerned about the institution's neutrality."

Apart from the rally, Mr Modi, 64, was scheduled to hold prayers on the banks of the Ganga and meet with 150 citizens at a local hotel. Though the Election Commission's representative sanctioned those functions last evening, the BJP said they stood cancelled because the clearances came through too late to be able to advertise them.

"My profound apologies to Ganga Maa for not being able to perform Aarti today," Mr Modi tweeted, drawing a swift retort from his competition. "Modi ji given permission of Ganga arti. Yet rather than performing arti, he is trying to draw political mileage. Sad. (sic), said Mr Kejriwal, also on Twitter.

Mr Modi will now land by helicopter at the Benares Hindu University and then drive to the BJP headquarters, commissioning a large roadshow, that as one BJP source said, "will be larger than any rally."

Senior party leader Arun Jaitley and Mr Modi's top aide Amit Shah will lead protests at the university against the Election Commission.  

The Election Commission has said it is "surprised and disappointed" by the BJP's plans.

Varanasi votes on May 12 on the final of nine days of voting in a mammoth election that has spanned six weeks. Ajay Rai of the Congress is up against Mr Modi and Mr Kejriwal.

Substantiating its claim of "bias", the BJP alleges that Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has been allowed by the Election Commission to hold a road-show in Varanasi on Saturday.  

Mr Gandhi's arrival in Varanasi is a tit-for-tat move - earlier this week, Mr Modi campaigned in the Congress leader's constituency of Amethi for BJP candidate Smriti Irani.