WB govt refuses permission for BJP's rath yatra

Politics

16 Dec 2018

Mamata Banerjee govt refuses permission for BJP's Bengal rath yatras

On Saturday, the West Bengal government denied permission to the BJP's proposed rath yatras in certain parts of Bengal, citing intelligence reports that they could lead to communal violence.

The BJP, for its part, has alleged that there are political motives behind the move, and has said that it will move a higher court against the government's decision.

Here are the details.

Rath yatras

The BJP wanted to take out three rath yatras

The BJP wanted to take out three rath yatras

The BJP had proposed taking out three rath yatras in Bengal ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, and had moved a division bench of the Calcutta High Court.

Subsequently, the bench directed the government to hold a meeting with three BJP officials by December 12, and take its decision by December 14.

After the meeting, BJP officials were told the decision would come on Saturday.

Where BJP had planned to take out the rath yatras

According to the schedule submitted, the saffron party was scheduled to start the three rath yatras from north Bengal's Cooch Behar, South 24 Pargana district's Gangasagar and Birbhum district's temple town Tarapith.

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Reason

Govt says rath yatras could lead to communal violence

In its decision, the government noted that the areas proposed for the rath yatras were, "because of publicity and propaganda, gradually turning into communally sensitive pockets".

It further said intelligence reports had suggested that the "religious overtones" of the yatras could be turned into "communal propaganda", which could lead to a "major breach of peace and communal violence" during, and after the yatras.

Groups

RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP could cause problems, says govt

RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP could cause problems, says govt

The government further noted that intelligence had suggested that "organisations with overtly communal agenda, such as the RSS, Bajrang Dal and VHP" would participate in the yatras and and increase communal tension.

Given these considerations, the government said that it could not allow BJP to take out the yatras.

BJP response

What BJP has said in response

BJP state vice president Pratap Banerjee, angered by the "politically motivated" decision, said that it was in "total disregard of the laws and regulations".

He added that the decision had been taken by the administration at the "insistence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee" in a bid to "put a curb on BJP's political programmes" ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The yatra is BJP's most high-profile political program in Bengal

The proposed rally involving the three rath yatras has been labelled 'Ganatantra Bachao Yatra' (Rally for Saving Democracy), and is BJP's most high-profile and spectacular political program in West Bengal.

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