New Delhi, May 8: The Election Commission today called for “greater maturity” in a barb aimed at the BJP, which had questioned its neutrality and courage after a premier rally venue in Varanasi was shut to Narendra Modi.
The poll panel also rejected a BJP demand to remove Varanasi district magistrate Pranjal Yadav, who had denied permission for the rally at Benia Bagh apparently fearing communal tension in the minority-dominated locality.
“The commission is not afraid of anyone, any political party or entity, in discharging its duty in a forthright manner. We urge political parties to show greater maturity while referring to constitutional bodies like the Election Commission,” chief election commissioner V.S. Sampath told reporters.
He clarified that election commissioners do not “normally” address the media during an election and that the move was necessitated by the aspersions cast on the panel.
Sampath said a BJP delegation had met the commission in Delhi today and “one of the leaders”, whom he didn’t want to name, asked the panel to act in a “bold manner” and take “risks”.
“The Constitution has given it (the panel) enough authority and powers to act boldly,” Sampath said. “Law and order is a critical issue and the commission would not like to take risks with the security of the people.”
Sampath denied Arun Jaitley’s allegation that Yadav had first granted permission for a rally at Benia Bagh and later revoked it. Rather, he said, the BJP had applied for an “alternative ground” and then withdrawn the request.
He said he had no reason to doubt the “credentials and sincerity” of Yadav, and that advice had been taken from the chief secretary and state police. He, however, added that the panel was probing the BJP’s other complaints against Yadav.
Asked about the images showing Rahul Gandhi entering the voting machine enclosures at booths, Sampath said a “factual report” had been sought.