Mamata govt rejects BJP’s application for holding rallies

The West Bengal government on Saturday rejected the BJP’s application for holding “Rath Yatra and/or Ganatantra Bachao yatra” in the state saying there was a “grave apprehension of major breach of peace and communal violence during and in the aftermath” of the programme.

In an official communication to the BJP, that was made public by the opposition party, the government quoted intelligence reports to claim that the “yatras” (rallies) would be turned into “communal propaganda with the likely participation of “organisations with overtly communal agenda” like the “RSS, VHP and the Bajrang Dal”.

“The areas proposed to be covered by the yatra are, because of publicity and propaganda, gradually turning into communally sensitive pockets. Intelligence reports indicate the public perception is that the religious overtones of the yatras will be turned into communal propaganda,” said the letter signed by three top government officials and addressed to West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh.

“Intelligence reports also indicate that in several districts, organisations with overtly communal agenda, such as the RSS, Bajrang Dal and VHP would actively join the yatra,” it stated, adding, “there is grave apprehension of major breach of peace and communal violence during and in the aftermath of the yatra.”

The saffron outfit was scheduled to hold three yatras in north Bengal’s Cooch Behar, South 24 Pargana district’s Gangasagar and Birbhum district’s temple town Tarapith.

The missive said the “large convoys of the yatras would create a chaotic situation and grave disruption of traffic on aerial roads and highways”.

“We are therefore, of the opinion that, for reasons which have been elaborately mentioned… it is not possible to allow the Yatra as proposed by the BJP,” said the letter signed by chief secretary Moloy De, home secretary Atri Bhattacharya and director general of police Virendra, who represented the state government in Thursday’s meeting with BJP representatives.

Angry over the government’s decision, BJP state vice president Pratap Banerjee called it “politically motivated”, “in total disregard of the laws and regulations.”

“At the insistence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the administration has not given the nod to the programme. They want to put a curb on BJP’s political programmes,” said BJP state VP, asserting, “we will talk to our leadership and decide on the next step.”

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