Responding to senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley's letters, the Election Commission on Thursday defended its decision to deny permission to BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for holding a rally in Varanasi.
"As you may be aware, permissions for two out of the three programmes: Ganga poojan, and 'Meeting of eminent citizens' referred to in your letters have 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 will appreciate that the Commission cannot overlook the security concerns expressed by competent authorities," said the Election Commission in its reply.
The commission also said that any past and current grievances presented by the BJP or any political party in connection with the ongoing elections have always been given prompt reconsideration by the commission.
On BJP's decision to hold protest against EC in Delhi and Varanasi, the commission said, "The commission 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."
"The Commission will like to assure you and all concerned about its commitment to hold free, fair and peaceful poll and requests for your continued cooperation in this endeavor," it further said.
BJP was outraged after the district administration denied permission to Modi for holding one of the two rallies in Varanasi on Thursday.
The BJP had sought permission to organise five events which included a rally in Beniya Bagh ground in Varanasi.
Modi is contesting from the holy city of Varanasi that will go to polls in the last phase of elections on May 12.
BJP senior leader, Arun Jaitley, called the move as unprecedented and said that it was a deliberate interference in conducting free and fair polls in the world's largest democracy.