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Bengal government asks BJP to meet top officials on 'Rath Yatra'


Kolkata: A day after the Calcutta High Court division bench turned down its objections to holding talks with two of three BJP representatives, the West Bengal government on Wednesday wrote to the state BJP leadership asking them to meet top officials led by the Chief Secretary at the city police headquarters in Lalbazar on Thursday to deliberate on the party's "Rath Yatra" programme, informed sources said.

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said the party got a missive from the state government asking it to meet the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police and the Home Secretary at Lal Bazar at 5.30 p.m on Thursday.

Party sources said state BJP vice president Ajay Prakash Majumdar and two other leaders Mukul Roy and Pratap Banerjee would constitute the delegation.

The bench of Justices Biswanath Somadder and Arindam Mujkherjee had on December 7 directed the state's Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and the Director General of Police to hold discussions with three BJP representatives by December 12 and take a final decision on the issue by December 14.

However, after the state government on Tuesday sought an extension of the deadline til Saturday, the bench pushed the deadline by a day on Thursday and asked the government to take a decision on the Rath Yatra by Saturday.

The saffron outfit was scheduled to hold three Rath Yatra rallies on December 7, 9 and 14 from north Bengal's Cooch Behar, South 24 Pargana district's Gangasagar and Birbhum district's temple town Tarapith, respectively.

The rallies were slated to cover all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

After failing to get any response for the first rally - which was slated to be flagged off by party chief Amit Shah - the BJP moved the Calcutta High Court.

But the single-judge bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty refused permission to hold the yatra "at this stage" and deferred it till January 9 after the state government declined to give green light to the programme arguing it might trigger communal tension.

The BJP then appealed to the division bench which came down heavily on the West Bengal government for sitting on the BJP's applications seeking permission for its rallies and modified the single bench order.

Advocate General Kishore Dutta had objected to the inclusion of Roy and Majumdar in the delegation, arguing they had criminal cases against them. Hover, the division bench rejected the objection and said it was the prerogative of the BJP to select its representatives.

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