New Delhi: The Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government on Thursday approached the Chief Justice’s division bench challenging the single bench order of Calcutta High Court that gave permission for Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ‘rath yatras’ in the state. The matter will be placed before the Chief Justice bench on Friday.
Following the Calcutta HC verdict, the BJP leadership came up with tentative new dates from December 28 to 31 for its proposed three-phase ‘Rath Yatra’ programme. BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said that though the dates have not been finalised, the Rath Yatra, which is now christened the ‘Ganatantra Bachao Yatra’ (Save Democracy Rally), will be held as per its earlier schedule and move across all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.
“We welcome the court’s verdict… Today we had a meeting with the party functionaries. The tentative new dates (for the Rath Yatra) are December 28, 29 and 31. Nothing has been finalised as of now. We will inform the state government about it,” Vijayvargiya said.
Earlier in the day, the Calcutta HC granted permission to ‘save democracy yatras’ by the BJP, setting aside the state government’s refusal on apprehensions of communal unrest.
Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty directed the state BJP to inform the superintendents of police of the districts, in which the rallies shall enter, at least 12 hours ahead of schedule. The party was also directed to ensure that the ‘Yatras’ are conducted abiding by the law and shall not impede normal movement of vehicular traffic.
Justice Chakraborty said that the petitioner BJP will be vicariously responsible for any damage or loss of public property. He also directed that the police shall deploy adequate force to ensure that there is no breach of law and order.
On Wednesday, the state government had told the court that intelligence reports expressing apprehensions of breach of communal harmony were the reason for denial of permission to BJP’s ‘rath yatra’ rallies in the state. Countering the state government’s stand, BJP counsel SK Kapoor alleged that the denial of permission was pre-determined and without any basis. He added, “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.”
The ‘Rath Yatra’ was scheduled to start from Cooch Behar district on December 7, but was stalled, following which the BJP had moved the high court.
BJP president Amit Shah was scheduled to flag off three chariots from different parts of the state. The chariots were meant to travel across the state’s 42 parliamentary constituencies over the next one-and-a-half months before concluding in Kolkata, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was likely to address a rally.