This is not the first such run-in between Mamata Banerjee and Mohan Bhagwat (File)
An event in Kolkata featuring RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is left without a venue with just weeks to go, after a prominent government-run auditorium allegedly cancelled the booking. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, ideological mentor to the BJP, has alleged that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's government is trying to scuttle the programme out of "vengeance".
The Mahajati Sadan, run by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee government, was booked in May for a programme on October 3 to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Sister Nivedita - an Irish social worker who spent her life in India as a disciple of Swami Vivekananda.
The Sister Nivedita Mission's trust claimed last week, it was asked whether it had police permission for the function. When the police said no permission was required for indoor programmes, they were reportedly told that the auditorium's audio system would be under repairs between October 3 and 5. The Sister Nivedita Mission says it has a receipt for the booking.
Today, senior RSS ideologue Manmohan Vaidya said, "To take vengeance on RSS, Mamata cancelled event of Sister Nivedita Mission Trust". Calling the government's alleged move a "knee-jerk response", he said it was meant to "appease jihadi elements" in the state which form the Chief Minister's political base.
Derek O'Brien, a senior leader of Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress asserted that there was "no last minute cancellation" and a month's notice was given to the organisers. He also re-tweeted a police statement that the Mahajati Sadan could not rent its hall during its annual renovation.
The BJP, too, is crying foul. The party wanted to hold a meeting at the Netaji Indoor Stadium during the visit of its chief Amit Shah between September 11 and 13. On August 25, the BJP got in touch with the stadium authorities after they were told the hall been booked on Sept 12 and 13 -- the two dates they had proposed.
"We were not surprised. We did consider another hall as an alternative but it was much smaller, so we have decided we will have an outdoor public rally led by Amitji," said Sayantan Basu, general secretary of the state BJP.
This is not the first such run-in between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the RSS.
In January, the Kolkata police had denied permission to Mr Bhagwat's rally, saying it was in the interest of "general security and public order". In a setback to the state government, however, the Calcutta High Court allowed the RSS chief to hold the public meeting at Kolkata's Brigade Parade Ground. The state government had blocked another rally to be addressed by Mr Bhagwat in 2014.