The denial of permission for hosting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election rally at a stadium in Tura town of Meghalaya has made the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) see red.
The Prime Minister was scheduled to address the rally at the P.A. Sangma Stadium on February 24 but Meghalaya’s Sports Department refused permission, saying the ground was unfit for such a programme.
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“The P.A Sangma Stadium is not under the control of the district administration. It is still under construction and therefore, the application was forwarded to the Sports Department, Shillong by the RO (returning officer) concerned,” West Garo Hills district’s Deputy Commissioner, Swapnil Tembe said.
“They [Sports Department] have communicated that it will not be fit to host such a big gathering as construction is going on, materials are still on the site and may pose safety concerns. Therefore, an alternate venue of Alotgre Cricket Stadium is being considered,” he said.
Local BJP leaders said the cricket stadium, about 5 km from the football stadium named after former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma, may not be a good option because of poor accessibility. They accused the National People’s Party (NPP) of trying to sabotage Mr. Modi’s programme out of fear that a “pro-BJP wave” could derail its prospects.
The NPP heads the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government of which the BJP is a minor constituent. However, the two parties are contesting each other this time.
The BJP’s national general secretary, Rituraj Sinha said the denial of permission to hold the rally at the more conveniently located football stadium showed the NPP in a poor light.
“How can a stadium be declared incomplete and unavailable for the Prime Minister’s rally barely two months after it was inaugurated?” he asked.
Meghalaya Chief Minister and NPP supremo, Conrad K. Sangma unveiled the P.A. Sangma Stadium in December 2022 amid much fanfare. The stadium was built at a cost of ₹127 crore.
Apart from the Tura rally, the Prime Minister is scheduled to hold a roadshow in Shillong on February 24.
Sangma denies role
Mr. Sangma refuted the BJP’s accusation that he had a role in the denial of permission for the PM’s scheduled rally.
“All permissions for rallies are given by the Election Commission of India and the district administration is adhering to the directives issued by the ECI. So, there is no say from NPP or my side. Dragging our [NPP and my] names into it is completely wrong. Even I haven’t gotten permissions for many of my rallies,” he said in a statement.
On the inauguration of the sports complex before its completion, he said, “We have already said in the beginning that the stadium has two parts. The first part consists of the football stadium, which is ready and was inaugurated. The other part, which has an indoor stadium and a swimming pool, is not ready and we have made it clear. Only half is ready and the other part is not,” Mr. Sangma said.