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Varun rally in mother's seat 'cancelled', goes to EC

Varun rally in mother's seat 'cancelled', goes to EC

Author: Express News Service
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 11, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/varun-rally-in-mothers-seat-cancelled-goes-to-ec/457329/0

Two days after an advisory panel rejected the NSA charges levelled by the Mayawati government against him, the cancellation of a rally Varun Gandhi was to hold on Sunday in his mother Maneka Gandhi's constituency Aonla in Uttar Pradesh may blow up into another confrontation between the two.

Varun was barred from holding the rally in Faridpur by Sub-Divisional Magistrate Munish Sharma after reportedly considering local intelligence reports. According to the district authorities, the reports advised against allowing the rally in Faridpur, which witnessed communal tension in March.

It was on grounds of his alleged anti-Muslim speeches that the Mayawati government had slapped the NSA against Varun.

District Collector R Ramesh Kumar, who addressed the media in Bareilly along with visiting Chief Election Commissioner Naveen Chawla, denied that Varun was refused permission to hold the meeting in Faridpur. He said the BJP candidate was asked to hold a meeting 5 km away as Faridpur had witnessed communal violence ahead of Holi this year.

The district authorities say that the reported remarks of the BJP's Pilibhit candidate that he favoured father Sanjay Gandhi's controversial population control measures had sparked anger in a section of the population. Incidentally, it was later clarified that Varun never said he favoured forced sterilisation.

In his complaint to the Election Commission against the cancellation of the rally, the 29-year-old leader accused the authorities of taking an "arbitrary" decision on the basis of a "false" press report. Varun said the permission for the rally had been obtained five days back, and urged the EC to ensure that his and his mother's "constitutional right" to "convey their message of hope and change to their electorate not be arbitrarily and summarily prevented".

An angry Maneka too lashed out at the district administration. "Varun has been holding meetings everywhere... Nothing happened there. In Faridpur we were thinking we could unite the Hindus and Muslims, but authorities cancelled the meeting and created a new situation," she said.

The BSP said that the state Government had nothing to do with the cancellation of Varun's rally, and it was the district administration's decision. He added that the state Government will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands, even if he belongs to "Gandhi family or is a son of a king."

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