The West Bengal government on Saturday denied permission to the Bharatiya Janata Party to hold its proposed statewide “rath yatra”, PTI reported. The state government cited intelligence reports that have purportedly warned of possible communal violence in the areas where the party was planning to hold the rallies.
BJP President Amit Shah was scheduled to launch the public rally in Cooch Behar district on December 7. The BJP had moved the High Court, which had asked the state government and the BJP leadership to discuss the matter on December 12. The Trinamool Congress government had said it will make a decision on December 15. The rallies were to cover all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal.
“There is a grave apprehension of major breach of peace... during and after the yatra,” the government said in the letter to the BJP, according to PTI. “The areas proposed to be covered by the yatra are, because of publicity and propaganda, gradually turning into communally sensitive pockets. Intelligence reports indicate that public perception is that the religious overtones of the yatra will be turned into communal propaganda.”
The government also said that the rally might disrupt traffic on arterial roads and highways. “Furthermore, during the period cited, major festivals and events are scheduled, and it required a heavy deployment of the resources of the government, including the police force,” the letter read.
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the state asked the party to apply to district administrations for permission to hold public meetings that the BJP’s national leaders will attend. “However, since the public meetings were part of the yatra, we are exploring legal options,” Ghosh told the Hindustan Times.
Ghosh said they would approach a single-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court against the state government’s decision to deny permission. “Doors of the court are open for us,” ANI quoted him as saying. “We sat with them [Trinamool Congress] on the orders of the court, but they said they won’t let the yatra take place.”
West Bengal BJP leader Pratap Banerjee said it was an attempt by the Trinamool Congress to deny any political space to the BJP in the state. “It is not a rath yatra but a yatra for political purposes in the State and we are calling it Gantantra Bachao Yatra [Save democracy yatra],” Banerjee told The Hindu.