The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called off its ‘Pratirodh Sankalp Abhigyan’ bike rally on Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary on Friday after alleged attacks on the participants by Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers in several areas of Kolkata.
The eight-day, state-wide rally, organised by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, aimed to highlight alleged atrocities in the state. After the police cancelled permission to the rally, the BJP moved the Calcutta High Court (HC), which allowed the rally to be held.
However, the BJP cancelled the rally alleging that the participants in the rally were attacked by TMC workers across the city. TMC and BJP workers allegedly clashed at Jorabagan, Pathuriaghata Street, Binani Bhawan, Central Avenue and outside state headquarters of the saffron party.
BJP’s West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh told news agency ANI that “democracy doesn’t exist in the state”. “The state government always intended to disrupt the rally, which was granted permission by the court. When our workers made a stopover at Kanthi, they were attacked. When the rally restarted, the workers, including state youth President Debjit Sarkar, were again assaulted.”
Ghosh also alleged that HC observer Ravi Shankar Dutta, who was tracking the bike rally, was also attacked. “The rally could not continue in this situation,” he said adding that the party will demonstrate before every police station against the alleged assault.
Former TMC leader Mukul Roy, who is now with the BJP, said, “This is state-sponsored terrorism under the leadership of the Chief Minister (CM). The workers were beaten up and manhandled. It is the slaughter of democracy; Bengal is bleeding under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee.”
TMC MLA from Jorasanko Smita Bakshi refuted allegations of assault by BJP leader and councillor Meena Devi Purohit. “Politically ambitious people who want to gain a foothold in West Bengal are responsible for the violence,” Bakshi said referring to the BJP. TMC leaders also alleged that the BJP workers passed lewd remarks on women.
On Wednesday, a visibly angry Mamata had alleged that the BJP was conspiring in West Bengal by organising the bike rally during the annual pilgrimage to Gangasagar, near Kolkata. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus throng Gangasagar on Makar Sankranti (January 14). Without naming the BJP, the CM had said that if any trouble occurs at Gangasagar, the saffron party would be responsible.