The Congress is having a tough time finding a venue for Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Kolkata. It has blamed the ruling Trinamool Congress for it.
The party had sought two venues –Park Circus Maidan, managed by Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and Netaji Indoor Stadium, managed by the state sports department – for holding Gandhi’s rally tentatively on March 25. Both requests were turned down.
Desperate, Congress is now weighing the option of approaching the army for a rally at Shahid Minar in the heart of the city.
“Mamata Banerjee’s government is denying permission for Rahul Gandhi’s rally in one venue after another. This is so undemocratic of Trinamool. I am ashamed to call myself an inhabitant of West Bengal,” Adhir Chowdhury, state Congress president, said.
The party is all the more incensed because its rivals Left Front and BJP – not to speak of Trinamool – had launched their Lok Sabha campaigns from the city’s Brigade Parade Ground between January 30 and February 9.
City mayor Sovan Chatterjee defended KMC. “Park Circus Maidan is not given out for political rallies. Moreover, higher secondary examinations are going on and the use of microphones is prohibited. There are many schools (exam centres) near the venue and many students live in the vicinity. We are not allowing the meeting on genuine grounds,” he said.
The sports department, on the other hand, said Netaji Indoor Stadium had already been booked before the Congress request came. “The stadium had a slot free in the evening but we were turned away,” Congress leader Amitava Chakraborty said.
Chowdhury sniffed an attempt by the Trinamool to prevent Gandhi from rejuvenating Congress in Bengal. “It is a political vendetta against Congress apart from disrespecting a national personality like him. But they will not be able to stop us,” he said. Ravik Bhattacharya.