ADDRESSING a public rally in Balurghat over the phone after his helicopter was allegedly denied permission by the West Bengal government to land, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday accused the state administration of “throttling the voice of the Opposition”.
Recently, the state government had not let BJP president Amit Shah’s helicopter to land in Malda at a local airport. Shah had later used a helipad of the BSF. The TMC government had also gone to court against BJP rath yatra plans in the state.
Adityanath was scheduled to address two rallies, at Balurghat in Dakshin Dinajpur district and at Raigunj in Uttar Dinajpur. BJP leaders claimed the administration did not let them use a helipad in Balurghat for his helicopter.
While the administration remained tightlipped over the issue, West Bengal Tourism Minister Gautam Deb said that having “failed to gather people for the rallies”, the BJP had made up the excuse.
Addressing the Balurghat meeting over the phone, Adityanath said, “I was supposed to reach your rally. But Bengal’s TMC government got scared and did not allow me to come. Therefore, using Modiji’s digital India, I have reached out to you.” He added, “Bengal’s government is anti-democracy. It is a government which harbours anti-national and anarchic forces. The Mamata Banerjee government first stopped our national president Amit Shah’s Rath Yatra and is now putting up more hurdles. But, I assure you, when you fight against such a regime, we are there with you. In a democracy, there may be differences. But the TMC is constantly showing in West Bengal how to throttle voices and to openly kill Opposition workers.”
On Monday, a delegation of BJP leaders led by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will meet the Election Commission with a complaint against the Mamata government. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, S S Ahluwalia and Anil Baluni will be a part of the delegation. BJP spokesperson Baluni said, “The West Bengal government is denying us our democratic rights. We are not being allowed to hold rallies, public meetings and permission is not being given for landing of choppers. With all these issues, the BJP delegation will meet the EC.”
Referring to the January 19 rally where leaders from 22 parties put up a joint front in Kolkata, Adityanath said, “Those who recently came to West Bengal and shared the stage with the TMC in the name of democracy, should introspect. They should see how the government is crushing people’s sentiments and wishes in Bengal… I congratulate workers like you and call them to fight against TMC goons. I assure you the BJP will come to power in Bengal with your help. Mamata Banerjee and the others have some misconception… She should understand that in a democracy one cannot misuse the administration in this way. The manner in which democratic programmes are being stopped is condemnable. The administration behaves like a TMC worker here, and it is unacceptable.”
Addressing a press conference at Bagdogra airport near Siliguri, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said, “West Bengal is a part of India, but strangely here Rohingya can come, infiltrators can come, terrorists can come. But here the Prime Minister cannot land, the BJP’s national president cannot land, a popular chief minister cannot land. We did not get permission for Yogiji’s helicopter to land. In Contai we got permission for Amit Shah’s helicopter just half-an-hour before time. This is the situation of Bengal. Here, the party and government have become one.”
Questioning the BJP’s claims, the TMC said the party could not gather enough people for the two meetings because of lack of an organisation in North Bengal. “Why should the state government put up hurdles in the BJP’s public meetings? In reality, one has to fill up a meeting ground with people for a public rally. The BJP has no supporters. How will they fill up the meeting ground?” Gautam Deb said.