BJP Back Pedals On ‘Rath Yatra’ After Legal Hurdle Over Permission

BJP Back Pedals On ‘Rath Yatra’ After Legal Hurdle Over Permission

JP Nadda will on Saturday hold a road show in Bengal (File)

Kolkata:

The Trinamool Congress and the BJP have been locked in a verbal exchange over the JP Nadda-led party’s planned Rath Yatra in Nabadwip in Nadia district of West Bengal. The BJP has now called it a “Parivartan Yatra”, and said it is the media that has been calling the campaign programme Rath Yatra. The nuanced position comes after a PIL (public interest litigation) was filed in the Calcutta High Court seeking directions to stop it citing concerns over law and order.

However, while seeking permission for the five segments of the procession in its letter to the Chief Secretary, which in the subject mentions ‘Five Parivartan Yatras’, the BJP said, “Each yatra (procession) will include a “rath” and will run simultaneously in different segments/territories of the state.”

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The party, in the letter, added: “In this connection we are to draw your attention that “Padyatra” and “Ratha Yatra” programmes have been carried out by several political parties since Independence as a valid political programme for mass-contact.”

However, the BJP is now back-pedaling on the issue. “What is happening is a political issue. This jatra (yatra) is not a yatra for a Ram Mandir. It’s not a yatra to build a temple. It’s not a yatra for a dharam (religion) or kirtan (devotional songs). This is simply for poriborton (change). We want to free the people from this government. That is why this kind of a programme will be organised,” party leader Shamik Bhattacharya said.

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The administration has allowed JP Nadda’s public rally at Chatir Math in Nadia’s Nabadwip on Saturday.

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“Permission has only been given to the programme for Nadda Ji. He will address the public in a meeting. No permission has been given for the so-called Rath Yatra,” police officials said.

The Trinamool Congress hit out at the BJP for trying to play the victim card even as the permission issue remained sub-judice. In a tweet the party said, “GoWB has not denied permission to any yatra, as claimed by @BJP4Bengal. They are indulging in malicious propaganda with neither substance nor truth. BJP must show material evidence of GoWB denying permission to their yatra. This is BJP’s attempt to claim victim hood.”

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In another tweet the Trinamool Congress added, “A BJP functionary had sought permission from Chief Secy, whose office directed them to local authorities. Meanwhile, a PIL was also filed regarding the same in the High Court & the matter is now sub judice. We thereby clarify that AITC has nothing to do with this issue.”

Mr Nadda will be in Bengal on Saturday to flag off the party’s ambitious Parivartan Rath Yatra from Nabadwip in Nadia district. The yatra will cover all the Vidhan Sabha constituencies in February and March ahead of the state election. The leader will on Saturday hold a road show and have lunch at a farmer’s house.

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