Getting a venue for BJP national president Amit Shah’s January 20 rally has proved to be an onerous job for the party’s Burdwan district leadership.
“We have been denied at least six venues within the city. Finally, we settled for one at the outskirts… The Burdwan Municipality gave all sorts of reasons for the rejections,” said Debi Prasad Mallick, BJP president of Burdwan district, who was responsible for arranging the venue.
He added that the party’s initial choice was the Housing Maidan. But the municipality did not give permission, as it was reportedly booked over a month ago for a government event. Next in line was Mohun Bagan Ground near the Burdwan University.
Here too, the municipality informed the BJP leadership that the ground has been booked for a tournament. The party then applied for Kalpataru Maidan at Borhaat, which was refused on the ground that no political programme is allowed there.
“Subsequently, Town Hall Ground, Burdwan Municipal Boys School Ground and another ground near Khagragarh were turned down because Burdwan Municipality authorities could not specify who was authorised to give permission for those venues,” Mallick said.
He added that the party later chose Ambedkar Club Ground but finally settled for a ground adjoining Chowringhee Club as it was closer to the city. “We have spent around Rs 50,000 extra to build a footbridge for the general public as the ground is accessible through only one road. The police said that road would be used only by VVIP guests and the common people would not be allowed,” Mallick said.
Local Trinamool Congress leaders, however, brushed aside such allegations. “Venues are granted according to norms and availability that are equal for everyone. The BJP’s allegations are baseless,” said Swapan Mullick, Trinamool’s Burdwan district president.
On January 20, Shah is scheduled attend a state committee meeting at Burdwan Sanskriti Lokmanch. State BJP president Rahul Sinha, party vice-presidents, secretaries and district leaderships will take part in the meeting along with BJP national secretary and Bengal observer Siddarth Nath Singh.
Sources said around 10 senior Trinamool leaders of the district are likely defect to the BJP at Shah’s rally. Trinamool, on the other hand, is set to organise a rally the very next day at the district to be attended by party heavyweights like Partha Chatterjee, Subrata Mukherjee, Subrata Bakshi and Abhishek Banerjee.