KOLKATA: In a big blow to BJP, Calcutta High Court on Thursday denied permission to the 41-day statewide rathyatra slated to be flagged off by BJP President Amit Shah from Coochbehar in north Bengal on Friday citing inadequate security arrangements to tackle possible communal or political tensions as fallout of the tour.
The tri-directional rathyatra converging at state capital Kolkata was supposed to cover all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state and was a major part of BJP campaign for the forthcoming general elections for which it has set a target of winning 22 seats in the state. Accordingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb were supposed to be part of the rathyatra.
However, a single bench Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty ruled that BJP knocked the court's doors pretty late on December 3 and it was not possible for the state government to make security arrangements for such a massive rally at such a short notice.
He said that the rathyatra could not be taken out till the next date of hearing on January 9. The court also asked district BJP presidents to discuss security arrangements with respective Superintendents of Police.During the hearing, the court asked whether the BJP will take responsibility of any incidents that might occur during the rathyatra to which the BJP lawyer replied that law and order was a state subject.
To this, the court said the state government has already denied permission to the rathyatra citing lack of arrangements to tackle possible communal and political tensions as a result of the tour. However, BJP lawyers approached the division bench after the judgment and were told to file a review petition at 10.30 am on Friday seeking urgent hearing.
Though state BJP president Dilip Ghosh expressed uncertainty over future of the rathyatra, he said that all arrangements were in place and Amit Shah will address a public meeting at Coochbehar nevertheless. "We don't know whether or not the rathyatra will come out. But, our programme has not changed. Amit Shah will address a public meeting on Friday morning as scheduled. Only if the High Court gives permission for rathyatra during possible hearing of review petition on Friday morning, the rally will commence at around 4 pm," he said.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said that the party may move the Supreme Court if met with disappointment at the division bench of Calcutta High Court.The BJP state president's motorcade came under attack allegedly by TMC workers at Sitai More in Coochbehar on Thursday. Window panes of several vehicles were smashed but the BJP president was unhurt.
Reacting to BJP's public meet on Friday, north Bengal development minister Rabindra Nath Ghosh said: "Dilip Ghosh is not above law. If he breaks law, court and district administration will take action. If he has asked his party workers to bring bamboo staffs, I ask my party workers to come unarmed and snatch BJP workers' bamboo staffs and break their bones." However, he attributed attack on Dilip Ghosh to BJP's factional clashes.