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BJP-Trinamool clashes erupt over bike rally

IANS | Kolkata |

Clashes broke out on Friday between workers of the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress and activists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha’s Bengal unit ahead of the latter trying to take out a “Protirodh Sankalp Abhiyan” bike rally in the city.

According to leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — of which BJYM is the youth wing, the first incident took place near Binani Bhawan in Pathuriaghata Street in central Kolkata and the second outside state party headquarters.

They alleged that some Trinamool workers hurled stones at the BJP members and also attacked them with sticks.

But, denying the allegations, the ruling party in the state accused BJP workers of indulging in vandalism.

“Trinamool workers attacked our workers at several places when they were all set to take out our scheduled bike rally after getting the Calcutta High Court’s order on Thursday,” state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh told reporters.

“First, they attacked our workers at Binani Bhawan and later they assaulted our workers outside the party’s state headquarters. Despite having the court order, we are not being allowed to take out the bike rally,” he said and demanded imposition of President’s Rule in the state.

Ghosh launched a sit-in demonstration in front of Gandhi Statue in the city to protest “the Trinamool high-handedness” and said he would meet Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi to apprise him of the incident and demand President’s Rule in West Bengal.

BJP leader Mukul Roy said: “The opposition is not allowed to exercise its rights and has been continuously coming under the attack of ruling party workers.”

According to him, there was “no democracy in West Bengal” and it had been “proved again and again”.

Taking a dig at the pro-Hindutva party, Trinamool Congress leader and state Minister Subrata Mukherjee alleged that the BJP’s programmes were “provocative”.

“The state government had never said that they would not be allowed to take out the rally. The state did not give permission for such a rally in view of the Gangasagar Mela (fair). They can organise such rallies later and we have no issue. Their programmes are provocative,” he said.

Another state Minister Shashi Panja said the BJP wanted to hijack the birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda and was indulging in politics over it.

“BJP workers destroyed public property and beat up local people. They have used the occasion of the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda to indulge in hooliganism. They brought their workers from outside to create tension here,” she said.

The vehicle of the special officer, Ravi Shankar Dutta, who was appointed by the Calcutta High Court to monitor BJP’s bike rally, was also damaged.

The BJP Yuva Morcha had decided to take out a bike rally across the state from January 11 to 18 as part of its ‘Pratirodh Sankalp Abhiyan’.

However, the police did not allow them, following which the BJP moved the Calcutta High Court. The court has granted the party permission to organise the rally with certain conditions.