SSB, BJP spar over Modiís rally venue in Gorakhpur

The Centre is learnt to have put a spanner in the BJP's plans to hold prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's rally at the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) ground in Gorakhpur on January 23. The venue was chosen by BJP MP from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath but the paramilitary force, which reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs, has refused to share the ground for the rally, which is expected to be attended by more than five lakh people.

Adityanath claimed the ground belongs to Food Corporation of India (FCI) and SSB has no role to play. "We will hold the rally as scheduled. The ground does not belong to SSB and they have been already allotted a separate land. We have applied before the local administration and they will decide and provide us the venue. The decision has to be taken by the local administration," he told The Indian Express over phone.

The administration is also said to have favoured the allotment of the ground for the rally due to security reasons as well as its capacity to accommodate a large gathering. The SSB, which maintains vigil at the India-Nepal border, however, said such a rally is not feasible on their campus. Rebutting Adityanath's claims, SSB DIG at Gorakhpur Vikas Arora told The Indian Express over phone, "Our set up is not temporary and since the time SSB was stationed in Gorakhpur, we have been using the FCI land. We also have a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with FCI whereby we pay for all the maintenance and other expenses."

Home Ministry officials also said that the ground cannot be given for public functions and political rallies. They said the SSB station in Gorakhpur is also a training and recruitment centre, where more than 2,000 recruits are staying.

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