Meghalaya govt denies permission to Modi’s election rally in Tura

NPP is clearly rattled by our popularity in Garo Hills, says a BJP leader from Assam

Meghalaya govt denies permission to Modi’s election rally in Tura. The NPP-led government in poll-bound Meghalaya has denied permission for a rally to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the PA Sangma Sports Complex in Tura on February 24, prompting the BJP to accuse the NPP of being afraid of its surge in the state. Meghalaya goes to the polls on February 27.

Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. (File picture)

Daulat C. Marak, the BJP’s Tura city district committee president, who had applied for permission on February 17 to the West Garo Hills district administration to allow the use of the stadium for the rally on February 24, told they were denied permission by the sports department because the stadium was still under construction.

Though the BJP is a constituent of the NPP-led government, there is no pre-poll alliance between the two. Both are fighting the poll solo and are having a go at each other during campaigning.

“Our question is if the stadium was incomplete then why did the chief minister inaugurate the stadium in December? We are being neglected by the NPP-led government of which we are a part. This is being done because the ruling NPP is afraid of the response we are getting all over the state. We are looking for an alternative venue and will be seeking fresh permission,” Marak said.

The BJP has launched a campaign blitzkrieg in Meghalaya with the Union home minister addressing three rallies in the Garo Hills between February 16 and 17, including South Tura, the constituency of chief minister Conrad Sangma, which drew a huge crowd.

“Denial of permission reflects the NPP is clearly rattled by our popularity in the Garo Hills but we will be holding the PM rally in the Garo Hills,” said Rupam Goswami, a BJP leader from Assam, and also the election management committee co-convener in Meghalaya.

The stadium is located in Tura under the West Garo Hills district.

In its February 18 response to Marak’s application, forwarded by the district sports officer, the director of sports and youth affairs, without using the term denial, has said “it is not advisable to issue permission to use the PA Sangma Stadium for the said purpose”.

A sports department official told  that permission was denied because the stadium was “actually” under construction and “risky” for such a large gathering. The capacity of the stadium is 9,500, he said.

“I have heard there will be a meeting between the PMO, SPG and district on Monday on the venue issue,” he said.

When asked about the inauguration issue flagged by the BJP, he said the football stadium housed in the PA Sangma Sports Complex was inaugurated but two indoor stadiums were under construction while reiterating it was “risky” to allow the stadium for large gatherings.

A West Garo Hills district official said the stadium was under the sports department and that “an alternate venue was being identified in Tura”. 

The five districts in Garo hills have 24 of the 60 Assembly constituencies in the state, and the organisers were expecting at least 1,000 participants from each constituency.

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