Calcutta high court on Friday allowed RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to address a rally in the city the day after, dealing a big blow to Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal government that had denied permission for the event.
This is the second instance in a week when the court allowed public meetings by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP after permission was denied to them by police and civic authorities.
Earlier, BJP had to obtain permission from the high court for its “sansad mela’ in Asansol, the approval for which was denied by the Asansol Municipal Corporation that is run by Trinamool Congress. The fair will be inaugurated by local BJP MP Babul Supriyo.
Justice Joymalya Bagchi while allowing the RSS rally, however, imposed a few restrictions on the number and identity of people who can join the public meeting.
According to RSS sources in the state, only those ‘invited’ can attend the rally and the number should not exceed 4,000.
The meeting will be held at the iconic Brigade Parade Ground, which is one of the largest venues for public meetings in the country.
Adding a new dimension to the tussle between chief minister Mamata Banerjee and the saffron camp, Kolkata police had earlier denied permission for the RSS rally, prompting the Sangh to move the court.
Police first denied permission for the rally at Bhukailash grounds in Kidderpore (west Kolkata) and then again at the parade ground even after the RSS obtained army’s nod to conduct the meeting there, which is an army property.
While refusing permission for the rally at Bhukailash grounds, police said the area was small and may lead to law and order problems. For the Brigade, the police turned down the plea saying the ground is too big to manage.
On January 9, RSS filed a petition in Calcutta high court seeking permission to hold the rally at the parade ground.
“Justice has prevailed. Calcutta high court ensured that Hindus can live in West Bengal and speak. We welcome the verdict,” Jishnu Basu, RSS secretary (South Bengal), told HT.
Bhagwat is scheduled to reach Kolkata on Friday night. After the rally on January 14, he will hold a series of meetings on January 15 with Sangh and BJP leaders.
Kolkata Police had also denied permission to a rally by BJP chief Amit Shah on November 2, 2014. The party had to get the green signal for the meeting from the high court.
In December 2014, Bhagwat addressed a rally, organised by the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP), at the parade ground, where he defended controversial ‘Ghar Wapsi’ programme.