Leaders and supporters of India's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have protested in northern Indian city of Varanasi after the election commission denied permission to its prime ministerial candidate to hold a rally in the area, according to local reports.

Thursday's protests were led by senior leaders such as Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah who reportedly sought removal of the electoral officer Pranjal Yadav for not allowing the rally where Narendra Modi was slated to speak, according to the English-language NDTV news channel.

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The Election Commission maintained that it could not "overlook" security concerns, but the BJP leader Jaitley said, "Can't say whether the EC is biased or timid or both".

The opposition party cancelled the rally and all other programmes scheduled for Thursday as the Commission granted the permission late on Wednesday.

However, Modi - the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP - is expected to hold a road show in the city outskirts.

Varanasi is projected to witness a bitter contest where stalwart such Modi and Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal will be face to face on May 12 poll.

"BJP has realised that all their calculations have gone wrong and they are losing in Varanasi,that is why all this protest," a top AAP leader Manish Sisodia said in his reaction.

The nationwide results will be announced on May 16.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies