Kolkata Police yet to give nod to mega BJP rally on Monday



In what is being touted as the party's show of strength, the BJP will take out a mega rally from central Kolkata to the northern part of the city in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on Monday, though the police are yet to give permission for the event.

BJP national working President J.P. Nadda will lead the rally slated to start at noon from Subodh Mallick Square, with the party hoping to gather thousands of people, including a large number of intended beneficiaries of new citizenship law.

The rally has been called in the aftermath of widespread violent protests in the state against the new citizenship law, with the agitators vandalising and torching trains and railway stations and blockading railway tracks and highways.

Since Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has hit the streets, holding processions and meetings drawing huge crowds and involving a section of the civil society.

All senior BJP leaders in the state would participate in the "Abhinandan Yatra" or thanksgiving rally -- a public expression of gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for passing the Citizenship Amendment Act -- scheduled to end at Shyambazar near the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

State BJP General Secretary Raju Banerjee complained that despite seeking police permission by following all the rules and regulations, the green signal was yet to come.

"We have decided to take out the rally irrespective of whether we get police permission. In West Bengal, the government does not give any space to the opposition to carry out its programmes. This has been happening for the last eight years of Trinamool Congress rule.

"On the contrary, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is leading rallies and holding meetings everyday. The police attitude is yet another example of how democratic rights and principles are being trampled in the state daily," said Banerjee, adding that the party leadership was still holding discussions with the lawkeepers.

The Matuas and Namashudras -- Hindu lower caste people who migrated to West Bengal from East Pakistan and later Bangladesh as refugees -- would be present in strength in the rally, besides Sikhs and a "large number of Muslims".

The Matuas and Namashudras are expected to be "formally given citizenship after the passing of the Act". However, BJP's opponents have claimed that these groups have been enjoying all citizenhip facilities for decades.

Banerjee said that lending colour to the rally, 15 tableaux would be positioned highlighting various aspects of the CAA to create public awareness on the issue.

"Some of the tableaux would bring out the double speak of Mamata Banerjee, who had so loudly raised in the Rajya Sabha the issue of infiltration from Bangladesh in 2005, only to do a volte face now for the sake of her vote bank," she said.

In view of the vandalisation of the statue of polymath Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar on the day of party President Amit Shah's rally in the city during the Lok Sabha poll campaign earlier this year, the BJP leadership has decided to deploy a large number of volunteers to manage the crowd all along the route.

"The Trinamool can go to any level to give us a bad name. They had themselves vandalised Vidyasagar's statue and then blamed us then," said Banerjee.IANS