EC stands by DM, rejects BJP allegation of bias

EC stands by DM, rejects BJP allegation of bias

EC stands by DM, rejects BJP allegation of bias

The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday not only rejected allegations of bias by the BJP but also endorsed the decision of the district magistrate (DM) of Varanasi to deny permission to the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to hold a rally in the holy city.

The Commission is “not afraid of anyone, any political party or any entity” and will continue to uphold the Constitution, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) V S Sampath told journalists in a news conference a few hours after Modi addressed a rally at Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and accused the poll panel of being biased.

Flanked by Commissioners H S Brahma and Nasim Zaidi, the CEC said that the panel had taken note of  “certain harsh and sweeping statements” being made against it. He also said political parties should “show greater maturity” and refrain from unduly attacking a constitutional body like the EC.

The EC also dismissed the allegation of lack of neutrality in its conduct. Sampath said that the commission was satisfied over the way it had been conducting the elections and would continue to do so, upholding the Constitution.

“The credibility, neutrality and impartiality of the EC are national heritage,” said Sampath. When asked why the EC had so far been reticent in responding to the barbs thrown by the political leaders, the CEC said: “We are not contesting the elections, but just conducting them.”

The CEC strongly defended the controversial decision of Pranjal Yadav, district magistrate of Varanasi, to deny the BJP permission to hold a rally at Benia Bagh ground in the heart of the city on Thursday. He said that the decision was based on “professional advice” that the district administration had received on the aspects like security, suitability and capacity of the ground.

“When the security and suitability issues are involved, the Election Commission will naturally go by the professional advice taken at the district level,” said the CEC, adding that the competent local authority, the district magistrate and his team, had taken the decision after taking into consideration “relevant professional advice on security”.
The BJP on Thursday staged protests in both Varanasi and Delhi against Yadav’s decision not to allow Modi to address a rally at Benia Bagh. The party also demanded removal of the young Indian Administrative Service officer from the office of the District Magistrate and Returning Officer.

The EC, however, rejected the demand, with Sampath stating that the district magistrate’s action in this case was not “fault-worthy”. He, however, added that the EC would inquire into other allegations made by the BJP against the DM and take appropriate action if required.

“There is no reason to deviate from the decision taken at the district level, especially when the issues of life and security are concerned,” said the CEC.

  The EC pointed out that the district magistrate of Varanasi had already issued permission for two of the three events that the BJP had sought clearance for. While permissions for “Ganga Poojan” and “Meeting of Eminent Citizens” had already been granted, the same for the rally had not yet been given as the chief secretary and director general of police of Uttar Pradesh had also endorsed the security concerns flagged by the district administration officials.