Bihar allows only half of Gandhi Maidan for Modi's Patna rally, BJP cries foul

The Bihar government Monday denied permission for the use of Patna's entire Gandhi Maidan for the October 27 Hunkar rally of Narendra Modi. The Patna administration wrote to BJP saying only one half of Gandhi Maidan could be given to the party for the rally as the other part of the ground had to be given for a function of the state HRD department.

BJP called the decision "politically motivated and an attempt to scuttle democratic right" of a political party. JD(U), however, said it was purely an "administrative" matter.

Former deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi told The Indian Express: "We had applied for the use of Gandhi Maidan six months ago to avoid clash of any function at the only big venue available in the state capital. We wanted a written permission from the Patna district administration and were shocked to learn that we are permitted to use only half of the venue."

Modi said the Hunkar rally would be a big occasion that can draw a huge crowd. "This is nothing but an attempt to scuttle our democratic rights. The rally will attract a huge crowd and we need to use entire Gandhi Maidan on October 27 to accommodate party workers and audience," said Modi accusing, JD(U) of adopting a "confrontationist approach".

Patna district magistrate N Sravana Kumar did not respond to The Indian Express query on the matter. JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP and national spokesperson K C Tyagi, however, said: "Political leaders have nothing to do with administrative decision. This is a pure administrative matter and nothing should be read into it."

Sources said BJP, which has been lying low politically after NDA split, wants to use "Narendra Modi rally as a big occasion to chart course" of its politics. JD(U) has also started going to Assembly segment to hold public rallies and galvanise party workers for countering BJP's onslaught.

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