In a major blow to Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal government, the Calcutta High Court, today, allowed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to hold the ‘rath yatra’ rallies in the state. The BJP had challenged the state government’s denial of permission to its rallies across the state.
The BJP is engaged in a running feud with the West Bengal government over the yatras that party chief Amit Shah is to flag off and is supposed to travel through all the 294 assembly constituencies of the state over more than 40 days.
Earlier, the high court had denied BJP permission for the yatras till the next date of hearing, January 9, when it would consider reports from the 24 districts through which the rally was to pass. The rally was deferred until the Superintended of Police of respective districts spoke to BJP presidents (of those districts) and filed a report by December 21. The BJP then moved a division bench against the order.
The West Bengal government told the High Court that intelligence reports expressing apprehensions of breach of communal harmony were the reason for denial of permission to `rath yatras’. However, BJP countered government version.
BJP counsel SK Kapoor alleged that the denial of permission was pre-determined and without any basis, adding that “in the worst days of the British period Mahatma Gandhi held the Dandi March and nobody stopped him”. But now the government here says it won’t allow a political procession, he added.
The `rath yatra’ was originally scheduled to be flagged off by BJP chief Amit Shah from Cooch Behar in North Bengal on December 7. But, it was deferred due to a single-judge bench direction on the previous day.