In an apparent bid to hamper Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's rally in West Bengal's Purulia on Tuesday, miscreants, believed to be workers of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), have blocked the road to the district and are shouting slogans against Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The protesters are carrying banners that read "Save India: Modi go back, Yogi go back". They reportedly plan to wave black flags whenever Adityanath's convoy arrives in Purulia.
The Uttar Pradesh chief minister is expected to land in Jharkhand's Bokaro and then travel to the venue by road, as the West Bengal government has allegedly denied permission for his helicopter to land in the state. Adityanath is scheduled to address a rally at 3.30 pm in Purulia, an important bastion of the ruling TMC that the BJP is trying to win over.
Purulia Superintendent of Police, however, said Adityanath did not have permission to organise a rally in the district, CNN-News18 reported. He also said that if anything "untoward" were to happen, action would be taken as per the "law of the land".
Biswapriya Choudhury, Bengal BJP leader from Purulia, threatened a "Bengal bandh" if Adityanath was not allowed to hold the rally in Purulia, according to a report by India Today. "If they don't allow Adityanath's arrival in Purulia, we will shut the state down. The BJP is with the public, and the people are with the BJP."
Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das spoke in support of Adityanath after reports on the road to the venue being blocked.
He was quoted by ANI as saying: "You can see that democracy is being murdered. Anybody from any political party can go anywhere in country. The chief minister of an elected government of the largest state isn't being permitted to land there and address a rally, but he'll go via Jharkhand. The people of Purulia are waiting for him."
Furthermore, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain has also been denied permission to hold a rally in West Bengal, NDTV reported.
Adityanath was scheduled to address two rallies in West Bengal on Sunday, one in North Dinajpur district's Raiganj and the other in South Dinajpur district's Balurghat. But the Mamata Banerjee government allegedly declined permission for his chopper to land near the venue of both rallies without any prior notice. Later in the day, Adityanth addressed the rally in Raiganj via telephone and accused Mamata of carrying out "shameful" activities.
BJP workers had staged a protest outside the South Dinajpur district magistrate's house after the Bengal government's decision. The prohibition of access to Adityanath in West Bengal came days after BJP president Amit Shah cancelled his rally in Jhargram, on 23 January. The Jhargram district magistrate is believed to have denied the party permission to land Shah's helicopter near the venue, citing security concerns.
BJP leaders strongly criticised this rejection as Shah's rally in Malda on 22 January, at which he kick-started the saffron party's Lok Sabha poll campaign in West Bengal, had also been at risk of being cancelled over a similar initial denial of permission for his helicopter.
However, the BJP had not confirmed whether the denial of permission to land a helicopter near the venue was the only reason behind Shah's rally being. Earlier, reports had said Shah was heading back to Delhi because of his ill health and was unlikely to attend the Jhargram rally.
The BJP has condemned Mamata over the obstacles the party has faced in conducting rallies and other events in the state. They also criticised her government for the ongoing tussle between the CBI and the state police.
Mamata, in response to Adityanath's rally in Bengal, said the Uttar Pradesh chief minister was "roaming around" in the state because he had "no place to stand" in his own. "Ask Adityanath to take care of Uttar Pradesh first. So many people have been killed, even police (officers) have been murdered. So many people were lynched... He will lose the elections if he contests. He cannot stand in Uttar Pradesh, and that is why he is roaming around in Bengal," she said.
Mamata made the statement while addressing a press conference after the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of her standoff with the CBI. The top court has directed the investigative agency to not take any "coercive" steps against Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar.
On Monday, West Bengal BJP had cancelled Adityanath's public rally in Bankura, scheduled for Tuesday, claiming that the district administration was "dilly-dallying" on giving permission to land his helicopter.
"We have decided to cancel the Bankura rally of Yogi Adityanath tomorrow as the district administration is dilly-dallying on giving permission to land his chopper. We didn't want to take any risk and so we cancelled it," West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh had said.
However, the party had expressed confidence that the Purulia rally would be held as scheduled.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Feb 05, 2019 16:51:48 IST