Court denies permission for Amit Shah's Bengal Rath Yatra
Coochbehar (WB): The BJP on Thursday decided to put on hold its party president Amit Shah's proposed rally and Rath Yatra in Coochbehar on Friday, saying it will wait for the final order from the Calcutta High Court, which will hear an appeal from the saffron party the same day.
Party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said that BJP is a "responsible political party" and it will obey the court order.
"Our entire preparation for the Rath Yatra program is complete. Amit Shah is also ready to come tomorrow," he told a press conference.
The decision was taken after the HC refused permission to hold the Rath Yatra on the grounds that it might cause communal tension.
The party's appeal for a division bench hearing on Thursday itself was turned down by Chief Justice Debasish Kargupta. He said the hearing would take place on Friday.
Earlier, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh had said that the party will go ahead with Friday's rally but would put on hold the the Rath Yatra, which is being touted as its biggest political campaign in West Bengal.
The court order prompted the BJP top brass to hold an emergency meeting here to chalk out the party's strategy.
The single bench judge Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty had also ruled that the rally stands deferred till the next date of hearing on January 9.
Vijayvargiya said the party has decided to move the division bench of the Calcutta High Court to challenge the single bench order.
He along with party national general secretary Arvind Menon, state BJP leader Mukul Roy and Ghosh in consultation with top leaders in Delhi sat for an emergency meeting to decide the next course of action.
"We have a plan B ... Let's wait for the court's verdict in division bench," Roy said without elaborating.
"If the government says that it can't maintain law and order if we take out Rath Yatra, then I think Governor's Rule should be immediately imposed in the state," he added.
There was disappointment in the BJP camp after the news of the HC order reached it. Massive arrangements were made for the Rath Yatra, which the party claimed would be a "game changer" in West Bengal politics.
"We have been working hard for the Rath Yatra campaign in the district braving all odds created by TMC," said Chinu Kundu, local BJP leader and owner of the land where the rally was scheduled to take place tomorrow.
Party workers from nearby districts have already arrived in Coochbehar to take part in the programme and were left downcast.
Hundreds of BJP Yuva Morcha members have been the guarding the venue and the podium for the last two nights.
A poster war between BJP and the ruling TMC is visible across the state. While the BJP has put up posters on the Rath Yatra programme and welcoming Shah, the TMC has posters saying "Only Lord Madan Mohan can ride the Rath and BJP's Rath Yatra program is an attempt to ignite communal tensions".
The Madan Mohan Temple in the town, which was once the capital of the princely state of Coochbehar, is one of the biggest temples of the district.
Shah was to kickstart the campaign titled 'Save Democracy Rally'. The campaign was scheduled to begin from Coochbehar district in the north on December 7, from Kakdwip in the south 24 Parganas district on December 9 and from the Tarapith temple in Birbhum district on December 14.