A West Bengal government-owned auditorium, Mahajati Sadan, in Kolkata, cancelled an event on August 31 where RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was slated to deliver a speech, commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Sister Nivedita.
What came next was a series of blame game moments, where the RSS members claimed that this was a conspiracy hatched by the Trinamool Congress (TMC). However, the venue authorities had apparently already brought it to the attention of the organisers that Mahajati Sadan was due for its 10-day yearly renovation that happens during Durga Puja.
Reason for denial by Mahajati Sadan authority is 10 day yearly renovation during puja holidays. No renting of hall during the period.— Kolkata Police (@KolkataPolice) September 5, 2017
The event on October 3, where Bhagwat was slated to appear, was to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Sister Nivedita. Hence, the organisers - Sister Nivedita Mission's Trust - claimed they had pre-booked the venue four months in advance in June. But, the trust alleged that last week they were asked to provide a no-objection certificate from the Kolkata police.
Firstly, the police permission was hardly a prerequisite since it's an indoor event. Although the police could ask for a permit for any event.
Secondly, the 'yearly' repair work that occurs during puja holidays was not conveyed to the organisers when the booking was done in the month of June.
General Secretary of the Sister Nivedita Mission's Trust, Rantideb Sengupta told Indian Express, "While we were about to obtain the NOC from police, the authorities on September 1 informed us that the place was unavailable as it would be under maintenance. We are looking for an alternative venue to hold the event."
Jishnu Basu, RSS karyavaha (secretary) for the southern part of Bengal told ScoopWhoop News, "This is a conspiracy. The government in the last three weeks suddenly formed a body, which rejected the sanction that was passed in June for the October event. Also, I don't understand why the Kolkata police is making declarations about a hall being renovated."
Rumours of potential unrest
The Indian Express quoted sources that since Bijoya Dashami and Muharram are on September 30 and October 1, the state government is taking no chances since some Hindu groups have planned to conduct arms worship on September 30. Chances are Bhagwat's presence in the city could lead to untoward incidents.
This caution, however, is not misplaced since the West Bengal BJP chief has instructed the party workers to beat up policemen. Hindustan Times quoted BJP president Dilip Ghosh as saying, "If the police refuses to lodge our complain, we will have to beat up those policemen. If Trinamool Congress activists can get away by assaulting the police, why can’t BJP supporters follow the same line."
Previous attempts to stop RSS events
The Kolkata Police in January had refused to allow a similar rally by Bhagwat, claiming that it could be a security issue. But, Calcutta High Court's interventions led to the event being conducted at Kolkata's Brigade Parade Ground. In 2014, BJP president Amit Shah's rally along with another of Bhagwat's was blocked. Again, Calcutta HC allowed Shah's rally to take place.
In the recent past, Mamata Banerjee has been more vocal in her criticism of the Narendra Modi government. Be it the demonetisation diktat in November or the introduction of the GST in July, her party has been at the forefront while launching loaded attacks at the BJP.
Feature image source: PTI