In a loss of face for Mamata Banerjee and the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), the Calcutta High Court on Thursday set aside the West Bengal government's refusal to allow the BJP to conduct its Rath Yatra programme in the state on apprehensions of 'communal unrest'.
Having heard the matter, Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty directed the state BJP to inform the superintendents of police of the districts, in which the rallies shall enter, at least 12 hours ahead of schedule. The party was also directed to ensure that the 'Yatras' are conducted abiding by the law and shall not impede normal movement of vehicular traffic. He also said that the BJP would be vicariously responsible if there was any damage to or loss of public property. The police was directed to deploy adequate force to ensure that there are no law and order breaches.
The BJP plans three Rath Yatras from different parts of Bengal, entailing the 'Rath' chariots travelling across the state over a period of a month and a half. After permission was denied, the state BJP had moved the court challenging the state government's denial of permission to its programme.
Tweeting about the verdict, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hailed the state's BJP wing:
Jaitley's second two tweets take a cue from the same line of thought that BJP party president Amit Shah had stated before the verdict while speaking at the Republic Summit on Wednesday. When asked about his view on the BJP rallies being blocked, Amit Shah had said the following:
"As far as Mamata Banerjee is concerned, we have no problem with her. She is an elected CM from such a big state, we respect her. But if someone destroys the institutions in West Bengal, we will stand strong and fight till the very end. Can you believe, in a democracy like India, a party like BJP isn't being allowed to carry out a Rath Yatra? Permission isn't being granted to hold rallies. The Prime Minister wanted to go, I wanted to go, Home Minister wanted to go, but they have stopped us. We went to court against it. You can imagine, I rally across the country, but to rally in West Bengal, I have to go to court. Prime Minister is forced to go to court to hold a rally. I believe media should rake up this matter. Are they not going to let a political party campaign?" he said.
He went on to issue a remarkable electoral challenge to the AITC ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, declaring that the BJP would win at least 23 seats in the 42-seat assembly.