The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) raised the level of confrontation with the Election Commission on Thursday with its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, accusing the panel of “breaching his constitutional rights” and party leaders holding protests in Varanasi and Delhi in defiance of prohibitory orders.
While the party demanded that the Returning Officer in Varanasi be removed, Mr. Modi accused the commission of “bias” and working under “political influence” for not allowing his rally at Beniabagh in the city. He said the denial of permission was part of “match-fixing” to thwart his campaign.
“I don’t know under whose influence you are functioning. The people have defeated the Congress. The EC cannot help you [Congress] win,” he said at a rally on the outskirts of Varanasi. He warned the commission against hurting the democratic credentials of the country. “It is unfortunate that the EC is not concerned about the institution’s neutrality,” he tweeted earlier in the day.
After the rally, hundreds of BJP supporters assembled outside Banaras Hindu University waiting for Mr. Modi, shouting slogans such as Abki baar Modi sarkaar.
As his convoy arrived, led by a rally of motorcycles with party supporters, the slogan-shouting reached a crescendo. Paramilitary forces struggled to control the crowd from breaching the security cordon.
Mr. Modi then held a five-km roadshow to the main BJP election office amid a sea of supporters in saffron caps.
The day began with senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, H.N. Ananth Kumar and Amit Shah staging a sit-in outside the university, defying Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure imposed in the area. They raised slogans against the commission.
In Delhi, BJP workers took out a protest march to the commission headquarters, but were stopped mid-way.