BJP leaders meet Bengal government officials, stick to 'Rath Yatra' route
Kolkata : The BJP on Thursday held a meeting with senior officials of the West Bengal administration and said it will stick to its planned route for the Rath Yatra programme but launch it only after getting the nod from the government.
Briefing the media after the meeting, which was set up as per orders of a division bench of the Calcutta High Court, state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Dilip Ghosh said the fresh dates for the programme would be announced after the administration gave the go-ahead.
"As per court orders, higher representatives of both sides sat for the discussion. On our part, we stuck to our initial point regarding the route that we had mentioned in our written application.
"The route for the Rath Yatra will be the same. There are no changes in that but there will be some changes in the dates," said Ghosh, who was accompanied by party genera secretary in-charge of the state Kailash Vijayvargia, and state party leaders Jay Prakash Majumdar and Pratatp Banerjee during the discussions at the city police headquarters Lal Bazar.
Chief Secretary Malay De, Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharya and Director-General of Police Virendra represented the state government at the meeting.
"We have agreed that whenever we are given the permission, we will make arrangements in two-three days. The national leaders who were supposed to come will have to be informed accordingly," said Ghosh.
He mentioned that they were asked if it was a religious event to which he made it clear that it was totally a political event.
"One can call it 'Ganatantra Bachao Yatra'(rally to save democracy) to reach out to the masses. We are not terming it Rath Yatra anywhere," he said.
Informed sources said the BJP representatives gave details of their programme, as also the meeting venues, and submitted all necessary documents to the officials.
A BJP leader said as the meeting drew to a close, the officers informed them they would inform the court about their stand on the programme.
Asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi would come on December 16, Ghosh said: "For now the entire programme is adjourned. As we get the permission, dates will be finalised."
The state government had on Wednesday asked the state BJP leadership to meet the top officials to deliberate on the party's Rath Yatra programme, in the wake of an order from a Calcutta High Court division bench to that effect.
The saffron outfit was scheduled to hold three Rath Yatra rallies on December 7, 9 and 14 from north Bengal's Cooch Behar, South 24 Pargana district's Gangasagar and Birbhum district's temple town Tarapith, respectively. The rallies were slated to cover all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.
The BJP sought permission from the state government, but after failing to get any response for the first rally -- which was slated to be flagged off by party chief Amit Shah -- the party moved the Calcutta High Court.
But the single-judge bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty refused permission to hold the yatra "at this stage" and deferred it till January 9 after the state government declined to green light the programme arguing it might trigger communal tension.
The BJP then appealed to the division bench which came down heavily on the West Bengal government for sitting on the BJP's applications seeking permission for its rallies and modified the single bench order.