Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government late Thursday ordered the cancellation of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rally scheduled for Sep 15 in Fatehpur Sikri near Agra.
Officials said that the district administration cancelled permission for the rally after reviewing the situation in the state in the wake of communal riots in Muzaffaranagar.
The rally, to be held about 350 km from state capital Lucknow in a city founded in the 16th century by Mughal emperor Akbar, was to be addressed by party patriarch Lal Krishna Advani and BJP general secretary Varun Gandhi. The BJP had been making elaborate arrangements for the rally over the past month.
Permission for holding the rally in Akola within Fatehpur Sikri, 18 km from Agra, had earlier been granted by the state administration.
As the news of the cancellation of permission for the rally spread, angry BJP workers raised anti-government slogans and charged Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his government of working under the pressure of state Minority Affairs Minister Mohammad Azam Khan.
State spokesman of the BJP Vijay Bahadur Pathak slammed the state government and said all talk of restoration of democracy by the Samajwadi Party (SP) government when coming to power was proven a "big sham."
"Cancelling political activity without any rhyme or reason... is this democracy?" Pathak asked. He said the cancellation of permission for the rally smacked of minority appeasement.
He asked why, when the Samajwadi Party's national executive meeting could occur in Agra for two days, the BJP could not hold a rally a few kilometres away.
Firming up its position on the issue, the state president of the BJP Laxmikant Bajpayi said the party will go ahead with its plans, and dared the Akhilesh Yadav government to do whatever it can.
Accusing Chief Minister of robbing people of their basic political rights, Bajpayi said the state unit of the BJP will not be cowed down.
"There is no rationale, logic behind the cancellation of our rally, which had been approved by the government," the state BJP president said.
Sources say the party has now decided to take the matter to the streets and ensure that the Samajwadi Party government is exposed and cornered.