The Trinamool Congress, which was voted back to power in the recent West Bengal Assembly elections, has decided to shut down an arterial road in Kolkata for five days to prepare for the swearing-in ceremony of its chief Mamata Banerjee, reported The Telegraph. "The entire stretch of Red Road will be closed for all types of vehicular traffic on and from 10 pm on May 23 till 6 am May 29 or till the dismantling of the stage," said VS Nesakumar, deputy commissioner of police, traffic. The last time the road was used for such a ceremony was in 1957, when Bidhan Chandra Roy was sworn in as the second chief minister of the state.
Red Road, which once served as an emergency airstrip for fighter jets during the World Ward II, connects important establishments such as Fort William (the army's eastern Command headquarters), the Calcutta High Court, the Governor's House, the Vidhan Sabha, and Eden Gardens, among others. The Army, which controls the area and the road, has granted permission for the event. The Republic Day parade takes place along the road, and partial restrictions are imposed on vehicular movement in the area every year during the run up to January 26.
Although public events are common along the stretch, this is the first time in recent memory that a stage will be put up across the road and not on one side of it. According to the English daily, neither the police, nor army personnel could remember the last time this road was shut for so many days.
"The permission for using Red Road was granted because the Army has always maintained a cordial relationship with the state government in Bengal. This is a special event, on the lines of Republic Day and Independence Day, and the Army did not want to raise objections unnecessarily," said a senior officer. "But we have not been informed of the specifications for the stage and other details. We would like to know such details," another Army officer told The Telegraph. The plan is to set up a huge dias around 50 metres from the entrance to Fort William, and about 30,000 chairs on the road for the audience.