Kolkata: The state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has moved the Calcutta high court to “ensure cooperation from the administration" during rathyatras scheduled to start on December 7. The matter is scheduled to be heard on December 6 by the bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty.
These rallies will be flagged off by BJP president Amit Shah from Birbhum, Coochbehar and Gangasagar on December 7, 9 and 14, respectively. Travelling through all 42 parliamentary constituencies in the state, they will then meet at Kolkata in January.
The party has written more than six letters to the administration since October 29, none of which has been replied to. “Taking lessons from the Midnapore debacle, we wanted prior correspondence with the departments concerned," said Brajesh Jha, state convener of the BJP legal cell. However, the state has shown no such interest, he added. Atri Bhattacharya, the home secretary of the state, couldn’t be contacted and text messages to his phone remained unanswered.
A portion of a makeshift canopy collapsed during a public meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Midnapore in July this year, injuring several party workers. The final event at Kolkata will be addressed by Modi. He is also expected to be present in four different venues during the rathyatras.
“We have requested the prime minister’s presence during the chariot march," state president of the party Dilip Ghosh said. According to another party member who asked not to be identified, Modi is likely to be present at Durgapur, Malda, Serampore and Krishnanagar on December 24, 28 and January 5 and 11, respectively.
Other than Modi and Shah, several chief ministers of BJP-ruled states, including Yogi Adityanath and Biplab Deb, will also participate in the march. “We wanted to discuss security measures with the state beforehand since all these big names are involved," Jha said. He added that the party had urged the court to direct the administration to cooperate with the organisers.
Previously, the state administration has denied permission to scheduled party programmes at the last moment, according to Jha. “Since people like the prime minister and the BJP president are involved, we want to avoid such situations," he added.
In October this year, leaders of the state BJP unit had to hold a meeting on the streets of Gurap in Hooghly district after the local police allegedly denied permission to a scheduled party programme. The party had moved court previously on several occasions after the administration hindered party events.
These marches have also been titled Restore Democracy in Bengal. The chariots will be decorated to propagate the achievements of the Modi-led Union government.