Arun Jaitley tears into EC’s defence of Varanasi Returning Officer

The BJP on Thursday expressed disappointments over the Election Commission’s move to back Varanasi Returning Officer’s decision to block Narendra Modi’s rally in Beniya Bagh.
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In a statement, senior BJP leader Arun Jailey said, “BJP does not accept the reasoning of the Returning Officer endorsed by the Election Commission that a rally by Narendra Modi at Beniya Bagh, Varanasi, would have security repercussions.”
“It is dangerous to rely exclusively on the ‘professional’ advice of those who may render unprofessional advice,” Jailey said.
The Election Commission, while defending Varanasi Returning officer Pranjal Yadav, said it relied on the ‘professional advice’ given to it by the district authorities.
“For the Election Commission to abdicate its jurisdiction under Article 324 of the Constitution in favour of the judgement of the appointees of the State Government would be a failure to exercise jurisdiction,” Jaitley said.
Jaitley welcomed the Election Commission re-affirming its independence and commitment towards conducting free and fair elections.
He said permission to hold a rally at Beniya Bagh was in fact granted to BJP on May 7 and revoked as an afterthought and the reason cited in rejecting the permission is not relevant as nothing untoward had happened there at subsequent rallies after the 1991 tension.
The senior BJP leader said even in the 2014 election, rallies have been held by Akhilesh Yadav and Arvind Kejriwal at Beniya Bagh.
Jaitley said the requirement of free and fair elections is a level-playing whereby allowing leaders of other political parties to hold rallies and by denying the same right to Modi violates the fundamentals of a free and fair election.

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