Lotus, BJP's symbol
Lotus, Bharatiya Janata Party's symbolReuters

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday raised a hue and cry over the Varanasi district administration's delay in granting permission to hold an election rally in Beniabagh ground on 8 May. BJP termed the district administration's delay to permit the rally as "unprecedented" and "unbelievable".

BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is contesting the Lok Sabha election from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, besides the Vadodara constituency in his home state Gujarat.

Blaming the district administration, BJP senior leader Arun Jaitley said: "I don't know who is interfering but the returning officier of this constituency is a threat to free and fair election."

PTI reported that Varanasi ADM (city) MP Singh received the application on 6 May from BJP, seeking permission for Thursday's rally in Beniabagh. Singh said that a decision on granting permission for the rally will be taken by evening on 7 May, Wednesday.

Sanjay Bhardwaj, BJP's media wing in-charge in Kashi area, said that the party has sought permission for two public rallies in Varanasi - one at Beniabagh and another at Jagatpur ground in Rohania, planned to be held on Thursday.

While the party has been allowed to hold the rally at Jagatpur, it is yet to get permission from the district administration for the rally at Beniabagh.

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman pointed at ruling party Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, for the delay in granting permission to the rally.

She said that Varanasi district administration was obliging an "unwritten order" from SP. It is for the first time that a candidate has been denied permission to hold a rally in his own constituency, she added.

In another turn of events in UP, Smriti Irani, BJP's candidate contesting against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, complained to the district returning officer against Priyanka Gandhi's PA Preeti Sahay, for loitering in and around polling areas of the constituency.

Priyanka is overseeing the campaigning for brother Rahul in the constituency. The returning officer has asked Sahay to leave the polling area of the constituency immediately.

(Ed: VP)