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India

West Bengal: BJP hopes to start Rath Yatra today, says Dilip Ghosh

Coochbehar (WB): West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh has said his party has full faith in the judiciary and hoped it would be able to kick-start its Rath Yatra campaign from Friday.

The Calcutta High Court had on Thursday refused permission to the BJP for holding the Rath Yatra in Coochbehar, after the West Bengal government refused to allow the event, saying it may cause communal tension.

BJP president Amit Shah was scheduled to flag off the yatra, touted as the party’s biggest political campaign in West Bengal, from here today.

“We have full faith in the judiciary and are hopeful that justice will be delivered. We are hopeful that we would be able to take out the Rath Yatra programme from today (Friday),” Ghosh said.

“Whenever we have wanted to take out a rally or conduct a political programme, the State government has tried to stop it either by denying us permission or tried to create procedural hurdles,” he alleged.

The BJP decided to put on hold Shah’s proposed rally and the Rath Yatra, saying it will wait for the final order from the high court, which is scheduled to hear an appeal by the party today.

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday said it cannot give permission at this stage for the BJP rally in Coochbehar, scheduled to be flagged off by party president Amit Shah on Friday, after the West Bengal government refused to allow the event on the grounds that it might cause communal tension.

The court directed that superintendents of police of all districts in West Bengal will file a report by 21 December to it on the holding of ‘rath yatra’ rallies by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after hearing all the district presidents of the party.

Directing that the rally stands deferred till the next date of hearing on 9 January, Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty observed that the prayer of BJP for permission to hold the ‘rath yatra’ cannot be granted at this stage.

The BJP was scheduled to hold three ‘rath yatras’ that will start from different parts and traverse all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies.

The BJP campaign was scheduled to begin from Cooch Behar district in the north on 7 December, from Kakdwip in the South 24 Parganas district on 9 December, and from the Tarapith temple in Birbhum district on 14 December.

State advocate general Kishore Dutta told the court that the Cooch Behar superintendent of police refused permission for the BJP president’s rath yatra from Friday. The State government submitted that it might cause communal tension in the district.

Dutta said the district has a history of communal issues and that there was information that some “communal provocateurs” and rowdy elements had become active there.

The SP’s refusal letter also noted that several top BJP leaders would come to Coochbehar, as also people from other states, stating that these may affect the communally sensitive district.

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India

With an eye on Lok Sabha polls, BJP to take out 3 rath yatras in West Bengal

Kolkata: With an eye on the next Lok Sabha polls, the West Bengal BJP unit would take out three rath yatras covering all the 42 parliamentary constituencies of the State.

West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the rath yatras would be held in December, but campaign for the programme will begin just after Durga Puja.

“The first rath yatra will start from the temple town of Tarapith in Birbhum district on 3 December. Party president Amit Shah is likely to take part in it,” Ghosh said.

“He is very keen on taking part in all the three yatras. But his dates need to be worked out. Union ministers, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and senior party leaders will take part in the rally,” he said.

The second rath yatra from Namkhana-Gangasagar in South 24 Parganas district would begin on 5 December and the last one from Cooch Behar would start from 7 December, he said.

Each rath yatra will cover 14 Lok Sabha constituencies.

“At the end of January, we have a plan to hold a massive rally in Kolkata which will be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Ghosh said.

BJP sources said the decision to take out rath yatras was taken during Shah’s two-day visit to the state in June. Shah had set a target of winning at least 22 seats in the State.

Roadside meetings, social media campaigns and rallies in various parts of the state will be used to campaign for the rath yatras.

“Bengal is of immense importance for our party presently as people are fed up with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) regime. We need to win a maximum number of seats from Eastern and Northeastern India, especially Bengal,” a senior BJP leader said.

The party presently has two Lok Sabha seats — Asansol and Darjeeling — in the State.

Buoyed by its performance in the last Panchayat polls, the West Bengal BJP has prepared its Lok Sabha blueprint, targeting 26-28 parliamentary seats in the State.

The 28 seats where the BJP’s chances of winning are more than 60 to 70% are spread across north Bengal, south Bengal and tribal-dominated districts of Junglemahal, the senior BJP leader said.

Some of these seats are Balurghat, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Malda North in north Bengal and Purulia, Jhargram, Medinipur, Krishnagar, Howrah in south Bengal, he said.

Time is fast running out for the “corrupt” and “anti-people” TMC government in the state but they are yet to realize it, Mukul Roy, BJP’s convener of the election management committee in West Bengal, said.

“The people will sound the final bell for TMC in the next Lok Sabha polls,” Roy said.

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Elections

Bengal BJP approaches SC for fair and free panchayat election

Kolkata: The West Bengal unit of the BJP will approach the Supreme Court with a plea to ensure a free and fair panchayat election. The party will file the petition this Tuesday (10 April).

A few days ago, the BJP formed a cell of lawyers to deal with legal issues specific to West Bengal. This is the team that is working out the petition.

Dilip Ghosh, the Bengal president of the BJP, addressed journalists today in the premises of the Vidhan Sabha, saying that his party is moving all quarters to ensure a free and fair panchayat election. He said that delegations of the party have met with the governor as well as the State Election Commission in this regard. Yet, Ghosh said, there was no sign of an end to the TMC’s santras (terror) tactics at the stage of filing of nomination papers by the candidates.

Ghosh said, the BJP had asked for central security forces for the panchayat elections. He said that, while the State Election Commission found some merit in the party’s demand, the TMC government would not permit the entry of paramilitary forces. The commission pleaded helplessness, Ghosh said.

Ghosh questioned the role of the West Bengal Police at the time of the recent riots in Raniganj and Asansol. “How can a police force that cannot maintain peace in a mere two towns manage 49,000 booths?” Ghosh questioned.

The Bengal BJP president further said, “The TMC has deployed goons to affect the nomination process. Once the candidates somehow cross that hurdle, they have to contend with the State police.” The government, the ruling party and the police have become mutually indistinguishable in Bengal, Ghosh said.

Ghosh further alleged that the violence seen at the stage of nominations was pre-meditated. POinting at the fact that the filing of nominations begins on 9 April and ends on the 16th, the TMC is utilising the long time to threaten the opposition so that it has time to withdraw its candidates.

Our readers may recall that when the TMC government in Bengal was a mere two years old, it had questioned the State Election Commission on the latter’s alleged soft corner for the CPI(M) that was still ruling most of the panchayats. The State Election Commissioner Mira Pandey finally asked for central forces to ensure a free and fair polling, but the paramilitary forces were never deployed.

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Elections India

Keep your bamboo sticks oiled for panchayat elections: Dilip Ghosh

Kolkata: BJP’s West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh has accused the State Election Commission of taking dictations from the Trinamool Congress government of West Bengal. “This is the state of governance in Bengal,” Ghosh remarked after the panchayat election dates were announced.

The BJP leader said, “The State government had, in consultation with the State Election Commission, determined beforehand when these elections would take place. The dates have been announced in a manner that pre-empts the opposition’s opinions about the panchayat election.”

The panchayat elections of this year in 20 districts of West Bengal is scheduled to take place in three phases in May. The elections in 20 districts across the state will be held on 1, 3 and 5 May.

The counting of votes of all the 20 districts will take place on 8 May.

The dates were announced on Saturday after delegates of the State Election Commission had had a meeting with the chief secretary at Nabanna, the West Bengal Chief Minister’s office.

In West Bengal, there are 3,358 village panchayats with 48,751 seats, 341 panchayat samitis with 9,240 seats and 20 zila parishads with 825 seats. There are around 58,000 booths across the State.  In February, the commission had sought 425 senior IAS and West Bengal Civil Services officers to be deployed as observers for “free and fair” panchayat polls, a demand that had led to face-off with the government in 2013.

“Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had started the Trinamool Congress campaign for these panchayat elections before this announcement. So, the ruling party is not inconvenienced by this sudden announcement of dates. On the other hand, there is no time left for us to campaign. Let’s see what we can do despite this,” Ghosh said.

Elsewhere, in Raninagar of the Jalpaiguri district, Ghosh made an odd statement. In a public meeting of the local BJP cadre, he said, “I appeal to the booth guards of our party to be prepared on the day of the vote with oiled bamboo sticks. Camp in the villages. If you see a stranger loitering around, interrogate him. If the son-in-law of someone who lives in the village enters it, ask him to come some other day. Tell him, ‘Come tomorrow; we will offer you machh-bhat (rice with fish curry). If you try to enter the village today, you will be beaten up’.”

Clearly issuing a threat of violence, Ghosh added that if some stranger tried to enter the villages that go to polls on the polling days, the person should be packed off to a hospital.

Ghosh was the in-charge of the RSS in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He worked as an assistant to former RSS chief KS Sudarshan. He was first appointed as the West Bengal State general secretary of the BJP. In 2015, Ghosh was selected as West Bengal State President of the BJP.

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India

Swamy defends pulling down of Lenin’s statue in Tripura

New Delhi: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy today defended pulling down of a statue of communist icon Lenin in Tripura, saying the late Russian leader was “a terrorist” and questioned if the statue of such a person could be installed in India.

Speaking to reporters outside the Parliament, Swamy also suggested communist leaders install Lenin’s statue inside their party headquarters and “worship” him if they want.

“Lenin was a foreigner. He was, in a way, a terrorist because the number of people he killed there (in Russia) after imposing dictatorship there. And (you) want the statue of such a person erected in our country?” Swamy asked.

The Rajya Sabha member also said that the statue was “not broken” and the BJP will send it to the office of the communist party (CPI-M).

Speaking on the same issue, Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir told a news channel that he considered Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jan Sangh founder Deen Dayal Upadhyaya as his idols and not some “foreign leaders”.

“However, there is no place for violence in a democracy,” said Ahir.

A statue of Lenin was pulled down by some people with an excavator machine at Belonia in South Tripura district, yesterday, with the CPI-M holding BJP workers responsible for it.

The BJP last week dethroned the CPI-M in the assembly elections held in the State, ruled by a front led by the Left party for over two decades.

Bengal BJP head justifies the act

Kolkata: West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh today said the demolition of communist icon Vladimir Lenin’s statues in Tripura was “not right” but it was an outburst of people’s anger against the Left’s alleged misrule.

The Left and the CPI(M) should be prepared for the onslaught of the masses as they have to pay for their “sins” of 25 years’ rule in Tripura, he said.

“Demolition of statues is not the right thing. But you have to understand one thing that Lenin’s statue was pulled down in Russia after end of communist rule. This is nothing but an outburst of people’s anger against the misrule of the Left,” Ghosh told reporters here tonight.

The CPI(M) should not forget about the killings of the BJP and RSS workers in the northeastern state, he said.

Two statues of Lenin were brought down in South Tripura, the Tripura Police said today, as the CPI(M) and its arch-rival in Bengal, the Trinamool Congress, blamed the BJP for the incident.

PTI

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India

BJP emerging as alternative to TMC, claims Ghosh

Kolkata: West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh today claimed that the party is emerging as an alternative to the ruling TMC in the State as the Congress and the CPI(M) have failed to put up a resistance against the misrule of the ruling party.

Ghosh claimed that TMC after returning to power in 2016 it has lost control over the administration, unions and its local leaders.

There are violent clashes in various educational institutions in the State, he said adding “TMC workers are now fighting each other over money, soon they will fight for election tickets.

“Congress and CPI-M workers are moving towards BJP as the two parties have failed to put up a resistance against TMC’s misrule. That is why BJP is emerging as an alternative to TMC,” he said.

Workers from Congress and CPI-M are joining BJP every day across the State, Ghosh claimed.

If the State election commission (SEC) ensures free and fair election then BJP will win most of the rural bodies in the panchayat polls slated to be held this year, he said.

Apprehending violence before the panchayat poll, Ghosh said BJP will pitch for online submission of nomination forms for the rural polls.

He alleged that TMC leaders in rural areas have already started terrorising BJP supporters by threatening them not to file nomination for the panchayat poll, which is yet to be announced.

Ghosh said it is the duty of the West Bengal State Election Commission (WBSEC) to ensure that candidates of opposition parties file their nomination papers without fear.

PTI