Nadda’s Bengal ‘rath yatra’ may run into TMC’s motorcycle rally; traffic chaos
- A district police official said, “With so many people travelling from across Nadia and possibly adjoining districts to take part in these programmes, movement of traffic may be hit.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) first ‘rath yatra’ in West Bengal ahead of the upcoming assembly polls is likely to witness chaos in Nadia district on Saturday because the youth wing of ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) will also launch its biggest rally in the district with 10,000 two-wheelers and tableaus.
BJP national president JP Nadda will launch the two-day roadshow, which the party has named 'paribartan yatra' (journey for change), at Nabadwip, one of the most sacred places for Hindu pilgrims, at 3.30 pm. The roadshow will pass through all 15 assembly constitutes in Nadia in two days. The TMC’s motorcycle rally, which has been named 'janasamarthan yatra' (journey for mass support), will pass through eight constituencies during the same period.
A district police official, who did not wish to be named, said, “With so many people travelling from different parts of Nadia and possibly adjoining districts as well to take part in these two programmes, movement of traffic may be hit in several parts. We are especially worried about NH-34.”
The BJP will take out four similar roadshows in other parts of the Bengal. Union home minister Amit Shah is scheduled to attend the last roadshow later this month.
Jayanta Saha, the youth wing president of the TMC’s Krishnanagar organizational zone in Nadia, said the route of the BJP’s 'paribartan yatra' may crisscross the one to be followed by his party’s rally.
“Our programme was planned and announced in January. We took permission from the authorities long ago. It is the BJP which is following us. They informed the authorities a couple of days ago,” he told HT.
“We announced this programme in January and carried out our 'samanyay yatra' (journey for unity) at Krishnanagar on January 14. On that day, we declared that on February 6 we will launch the 'janasamarthan yatra' across all eight assembly segments in the TMC’s Krishnanagar organisational zone. The BJP is following us, although it does not have mass support,” Saha said.
Incidentally, the BJP wrested the district’s Ranaghat Lok Sabha seat in 2019.
“The motorcycle rally will start at 10 am and 10,000 motorcycles and tableaus, carrying placards on the performance of the government, will start from Chapra and pass through eight constituencies in two days. This is going to be a historic event. Nadda is an outsider. Mamata Banerjee or senior state leaders need not come here. The youth workers of the TMC have enough strength to counter him,” said Saha.
Asked whether the TMC's motorcyclists would change their route if they crossed the path of the BJP's roadshow, Saha said, "We believe that in a democracy, all parties have the right to carry out roadshows. Our rally will be gigantic. The BJP can always follow us."
The TMC and BJP exchanged allegations for three days over police permission for Nadda’s roadshow. The matter even reached the Kolkata high court where a lawyer filed a petition which will be heard on February 9. The controversy started after the state government asked the BJP to seek permission from authorities in the districts where roadshows will be held. The Nadia district authorities gave it a nod on Thursday.
The TMC said on Twitter that the state government did not deny permission to the roadshow but the BJP started a “malicious propaganda.”
"GoWB has not denied permission to any Yatra, as claimed by @BJP4Bengal. They are indulging in malicious propaganda with neither substance nor truth. BJP must show material evidence of GoWB denying permission to their Yatra. This is BJP's attempt to claim victimhood," the TMC tweeted on Friday.
The superintendents of Krishnanagar and Ranaghat districts in Nadia could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
Samik Bhattacharya, chief spokesperson of the Bengal BJP, said the onus will be on the district authorities if there is any trouble during Nadda’s roadshow.
Some cars in Nadda’s convoy were stoned at Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas on January 10 and the Centre and the state locked horns over alleged lapses in police arrangement since the BJP president is provided with Z-category security cover.
“Let me first clarify that we did not seek any permission for our 'paribartan yatra'. We sent an intimation to the Nadia district authorities. Secondly, the TMC’s motorcycle rally is part of Mamata Banerjee’s recent reactive politics. Having realised that the BJP is coming to power, she has gone into a reactive mode and imitating everything that we are doing. The biggest example of this is her decision to contest from Nandigram from where Suvendu Adhikari was elected,” said Bhattacharya.