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Bengal govt denies permission for BJP's rath yatra, but may allow public meetings


New Delhi, Dec 16: The West Bengal government on Saturday has told the BJP that it will not grant permission for its proposed 'Ganatantra Bachao' Rath Yatra in the state but would allow public meetings only if fresh applications are made.

In a three page statement sent to the BJP on Saturday evening, the Bengal government cited apprehensions about possible communal tension if the yatra was allowed.

Bengal govt denies permission for BJPs rath yatra but may allow public meetings

"There is grave apprehension of a major breach of peace and communal violence during and in the aftermath of the Yatra," the letter said.

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"Intelligence reports indicate that in several districts, organisations with overtly communal agenda such as the RSS, Bajrang Dal and VHP would actively join the Yatra," the government states in its response to BJP's proposal.

The BJP leadership said that decision by the State government is "politically motivated".

"It is not a rath yatra but a yatra for political purposes in the State and we are calling it Gantantra Bachao Yatra ( Save democracy yatra)," Pratap Banerjee senior State BJP leader said. He accused the administration of dubbing the yatra as "rath yatra" when the BJP leadership, nowhere in their communication to the State called the political programme a 'rath yatra'.

Mr Banerjee said the State administration has asked the BJP to submit fresh applications for holding public rallies to concerned local authorities.

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BJP president Amit Shah was scheduled to launch the yatra in West Bengal's Cooch Behar district on December 7 but the State government denied permission to the yatra. Three yatras were supposed to be held through the State touching all 42 Parliament constituencies. The BJP leadership approached the High Court, which directed the State government and BJP leadership to discuss the matter on December 12, and the State government was to make its stand clear to the BJP by December 15.

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