Calcutta HC allows 'Rath Yatra' in West Bengal; asks state to keep order

Updated: Dec 21, 2018, 13:40 IST | Agencies

The rallies are part of the BJP's aggressive campaign to make inroads into the state, where it is gradually increasing its vote share. It has three MLAs in the 294-member Assembly and two Lok Sabha MPs from the state

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday allowed the BJP's 'Rath Yatra' programme in West Bengal as it set aside the state government's decision to refuse permission for the rallies over apprehensions of communal unrest, saying courts can interfere if administrative authorities exercise their discretionary powers in a whimsical manner.

While directing the police to deploy adequate force to ensure that there is no breach of law and order, Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty asked the state BJP to inform the superintendents of police of districts where the rallies will enter at least 12 hours ahead of schedule and to ensure that the 'yatras' are conducted by abiding the law and they do not impede movement of vehicular traffic.

The court said that the BJP will be responsible for any damage to public property. Welcoming the order, the BJP hit out the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal for denying permission for its rally and questioned the "silence" of opposition on the issue after the order. "Why are human rights activists and opposition parties silent on denial of a right to a political party to organise its programme in West Bengal. If any NDA/BJP government had stopped an opposition programme, it would have been called an "Undeclared Emergency".

"Why silence now?" BJP leader and Union Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted. State president Dilip Ghosh said that a new schedule for holding the rath yatras will be prepared. "I can assure that there will be no breach of law and order from our part," he said. The party had planned three 'rath yatras' from different parts of West Bengal which will travel across the state's 42 parliamentary constituencies.

The rallies are part of the BJP's aggressive campaign to make inroads into the state, where it is gradually increasing its vote share. It has three MLAs in the 294-member Assembly and two Lok Sabha MPs from the state. According to the original schedule submitted by the BJP, Shah was to kickstart the campaign called 'Save Democracy Rally' from Cooch Behar district on December 7, from Kakdwip in South 24 Parganas on December 9 and from Tarapith temple in Birbhum on December 14.

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