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BJP to move court against Bengal govt for delay in discussing rath yatra

The rally of three raths that has been labelled as Ganatantra Bachao Yatra (Rally for Saving Democracy) is so far the most high-profile political programme to be undertaken by the BJP in the state where it aims to win half the Lok Sabha seats in 2019. However the party claims that the state home secretary is not replying to its letters seeking an appointment to discuss the programme.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2018 19:12 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Bengal,Ganatantra Bachao Yatra,BJP rath yatra
The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) said it will move the court against the Bengal government not giving it to discuss its rath yatra in the state in the next two months (Representative photo) (AFP)

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Bengal unit has decided to move Calcutta high court against the Mamata Banerjee government, alleging that the state home secretary has not responded to the party’s letters seeking an appointment to discuss the route and programme of the party’s rath yatra scheduled in December and January.

The rally of three raths that has been labelled as Ganatantra Bachao Yatra (Rally for Saving Democracy) is so far the most high-profile political programme to be undertaken by the saffron party in the state. Bengal is a focus state where the party wants to win at least 22 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections and is depending on this programme to rally public opinion in the state.+

The yatra is supposed to be inaugurated on December 5 by party president Amit Shah from the Kali temple at Tarapith, in Birbhum district, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to deliver an address at a public rally in January when the Yatras will culminate after 43 days.

“We suspect the administration is planning to foil our event by denying permission, or making the process of obtaining permission difficult. We are preparing to move court,” said BJP national executive member Mukul Roy, who is the head of the party’s Lok Sabha election management committee for West Bengal.

He said a letter was sent to home secretary Atri Bhattacharya on October 29, seeking an appointment with him by November 5. As it yielded no response, a second letter was sent on November 5, seeking an appointment by November 9.

“We need the meeting with you to pursue with the state administration for the required permission (if any) for the proposed peaceful political programme… In case the government of West Bengal fails to respond to our plea, we shall have no other alternative than to approach appropriate court of law to enforce our democratic rights,” reads BJP’s second letter to the home secretary on November 5. It was signed by state unit vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar.

“I can tell you about this only after I am back in office,” said Bhattacharya on Thursday, which was a government holiday on the occasion of the immersion of idols of goddess Kali. The state secretariat will open on November 12.

Majumdar dubbed Bhattacharya’s excuse as a “lame one”.

“There were six working days between October 29 and today (November 8), enough for sending a reply and fixing the appointment after November 12, if they desired so. Moreover, apart from the official mail, we sent the letter through WhatsApp to the home secretary’s mobile number and also sent him text messages,” he said. “We are moving court next week.”

Chief ministers of various BJP-ruled states, Union ministers as well as popular central-level leaders of the party are slated to attend the three yatras that aim to cover nearly 11,000 km in 43 days.

Over the past four years, the BJP had to move court a few times to obtain permission for holding rallies in the state.

First Published: Nov 08, 2018 19:08 IST