The Bengal government on Saturday cited law-and-order concerns to deny the BJP permission to conduct three rath yatras - or chariot processions - in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha election next year. The government faxed its refusal to the BJP office in Kolkata, spurring angry reactions from the opposition party.
"We will move a higher court against the West Bengal government's refusal to allow our yatras," said party leader Kailash Vijayvargiya.
BJP national president Amit Shah was slated to kickstart the campaign, titled 'Save Democracy Rally', from Cooch Behar district on December 7, from Kakdwip in South 24 Parganas district on December 9, and from Tarapith temple in Birbhum district on December 14. The rallies were supposed to cover all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state. However, the state government denied permission on the grounds that it will cause communal tension in the state.
Last week, a division bench of the Calcutta High Court had directed the West Bengal chief secretary, the home secretary and the state director general of police to hold a meeting with three representatives of the BJP by December 12 and take a call on the rath yatras by December 14. After the negotiations were done, party leaders said they will "wait and watch" the government's response to their demand until Saturday.
The BJP moved the division bench of the Calcutta High Court after a single judge bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty upheld the Mamata Banerjee government's decision on the yatras.