BJP president Amit Shah on Friday termed the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal undemocratic, criticising it for not allowing the ruling party at the Centre to conduct a rath yatra in the state.
Shah said that the West Bengal chief minister is scared of BJP’s growth in the state, and that’s why she denied permission to the party’s “Gantantra Bachao Yatra (Save Democracy Yatra)” that was to take place on Friday.
“A democratic process has been suppressed in West Bengal, with the misuse of power. The chief minister is following this trend. This is non-democratic,” said Shah.
After the West Bengal government first denied BJP permission to organise the rath yatra, saying it may cause communal tension, the party had moved the Calcutta High Court for relief. However, the Calcutta High Court upheld the state government’s decision. Shah was expected to flag off the rath yatra from Coochbehar on Friday.
The BJP had decided to put on hold Shah’s proposed rath yatra, saying it will wait for the final order from the high court, which will hear an appeal by the saffron party on Friday.
Meanwhile, the state BJP leadership has called an emergency meeting in Coochbehar to discuss the future course of action after uncertainty loomed over the party’s rath yatra programme.
ddressing a press conference in New Delhi on Friday, Shah assured party workers that the yatra is not cancelled, just postponed.
“I will personally lead the rath yatra when it happens. Our party workers in the state will not bow down to tactics of Mamata,” said Shah, adding, “BJP workers are not afraid of suppressing Mamata. We are committed to bringing good governance inside Bengal,” he added.
Shah also offered advice to the West Bengal chief minister, saying that canceling the yatra will not get her the support of the people. “I want to tell Mamata that by not giving permission to BJP programmes, you will only invite the ire of people in your state,” he said.
Shah also attacked the state government, alleging that the state leads in the number of political killings in the country.
“West Bengal is a hotbed of all the illegal activities. Governance has collapsed in West Bengal and people are looking for a change. Twenty-six out of 100 political murders happened in West Bengal, making it number one in political murder in India,” he said.
A section of party leaders, who spoke to PTI on the condition of anonymity, said if the BJP fails to conduct the proposed rath yatra, it would send a wrong message to the rank and file of the party. “We are waiting for the court’s verdict. We have also called a meeting of party workers at 2 pm,” said a senior state BJP leader.
The party’s state president Dilip Ghosh had earlier in the day said his party has full faith in the judiciary and hoped it would be able to kick-start its rath yatra campaign from Friday. “Whenever we have wanted to take out a rally or conduct a political programme, the state government has tried to stop it either by denying us permission or tried to create procedural hurdles,” he alleged.
Ghosh and other party leaders also offered puja at the Madan Mohan Mandir at Coochbehar.
Three air-conditioned buses were to be flagged off from Madan Mohan temple in Cooch Behar on Friday, Kakdwip near the pilgrimage of Ganga Sagar at the confluence of the Hooghly river and the Bay of Bengal on 9 December, as well as the temple town of Tarapith on 14 December.