RSS spar with Kolkata police as HC gives permission for Bhagwat rally
The latest in the spat between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which began with the announcement of the note ban, has been Kolkata Police's refusing to giver permission for an RSS rally to be held on 14 January.
One day after Kolkata Police refused to allow for Mohan Bhagwat's rally to be held at the Brigade Parade Ground, the Calcutta High Court issued a showcase notice the commissioner of police for contempt of court. The HC also gave permission to the RSS to hold the rally on 14 January, on the condition that only 4,000 people would be invited.
It has also stipulated that the list of invitees must be handed over to the Kolkata Police and that those attending must carry invites to gain entry.
Jishnu Bose, RSS's general secretary of south Bengal, said, "We will follow the court's directions and we have already prepared a list of the invitees and sent the list to the police."
The Kolkata Police had initially rejected the RSS's application for the rally at both the Brigade Parade Ground in central Kolkata, as well as the Bhukailash Maidan in Kidderpore.
The police cited lack of adequate space at Bhukailash Maidan, while for the other venue, the reason cited was that it's the transit point for the Ganga Sagar Mela, and many priests had already set up their tents at the ground.
According to RSS members, a crowd of around one lakh supporters was expected to attend the rally.
An angry RSS
Several others RSS leaders in Bengal have also spoken of how there has never been an issue in holding such a function, which has been held since 1939 onwards, and that the police have never resisted their attempts from holding such rallies.
In fact, many RSS members are offended about Kolkata Police's actions.
Bose said, "It's a shame that the police rejected our permission and that we needed to go to the High Court to get permission to hold the rally."
Bhagwat is scheduled to reach Kolkata on the night of 13 January. After the rally, he'll be holding a series of meetings with RSS and BJP leaders.
A TMC stronghold
It will be a challenge for the RSS to showcase their strength at the Brigade Parade Ground, as its has previously been an important rally ground for the TMC and CPI(M).
With an increase in communal tension in Bengal, particularly after the Dhulagarh tension, state RSS leaders are bound to discuss the issue with Bhagwat as the Sangh is a platform that speaks for Hindus.
An important development over the past few days which may have also led to the police's refusal to let the RSS host the rally is the arrest of two TMC MPs in the Rose Valley scam. Since then, TMC has given various instructions to boycott the Centre and have obstructed several BJP programmes.
On 11 January, the Asansol municipality rejected Union minister Babul Supriyo's request to give permission for the Rail Gate Maidan to organise a Sansad Mela. The reasons cited were security and a lack of space. Supriyo then approached the Calcutta High Court, which then gave an order the next day to the Asansol municipality to give permission to hold the mela, where several top singers are slated to perform.
TMC MP Sultan Ahmed said, "We will follow court's direction. There is no political motive behind the decision."
Edited by Aleesha Matharu