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Outlook.com

Chariots Stuck In Lowlands

The BJP had grand campaign plans for Bengal, but is stalled in its tracks by a canny TMC

Chariots Stuck In Lowlands
Not A Start | Photograph by Getty Images
Chariots Stuck In Lowlands
outlookindia.com
2018-12-21T10:50:21+05:30

A “murder of democracy”, cried BJP’s Bengal president Dilip Ghosh shrilly. The reference was to the Mamata Banerjee government’s repeated refusal to grant permission to the party to hold ‘Rath Yatras’ in West Bengal.

Planned since early 2018 as the programme that would kick-start the BJP’s massive Bengal campaign before the general elections of 2019, the ‘Ganatantra Bachao’ or ‘Save Democracy’ mega rallies were to take off from different parts of the state in December. BJP national president Amit Shah was supposed to flag off a procession from north Bengal’s Cooch Behar district. Other BJP leaders slated to be present for the programmes were Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal, BJP general secretary in-charge of West Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb. The centrepiece of the rallies was to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was to make an app­earance during one or more segments of the rally on Sunday, December 16. But the Bengal Police, denying permission in a final, official communication on Dece­mber 15, told the BJP state unit that as per intelligence reports, the rallies would ign­ite communal clashes and turn into events of ‘communal propaganda’. Orga­nisations with an “overtly communal” age­NDA like Bajrang Dal, VHP and RSS would also be involved, it said.

BJP sources stated that if the rallies could not be held, it was not a loss just for the BJP but for West Bengal. “We had prepared events where the country’s top leaders would visit the remotest parts of the state to hear their problems, discuss solutions and challenges, but the cancellation of programmes deprived them of these opportunities,” Sanghamitra Chou­dhury, a BJP state unit leader tells Outlook. She pointed out that...

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