Demonetisation brought West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the forefront of a political war with the BJP-led central government and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), but their adversarial overtures were there to be seen for long.
The latest flashpoint between the two is today’s RSS rally in Kolkata but this is not the first time when Mamata Banerjee tried to prevent the saffron brigade from holding a public meeting in West Bengal.
Mamata Banerjee and Narendra Modi traded spiteful charges during the Lok Sabha polls in 2014. While the then BJP prime ministerial candidate took on West Bengal Chief Minister over Sharada chit fund and other scams, Mamata Banerjee returned the favour by calling him ‘Danga Babu’ (Mister Riot).
After the Lok Sabha polls, in which the BJP secured an unprecedented 16 per cent vote share, Mamata Banerjee seems to have decided not to let the saffron wings flutter in West Bengal, which was once a red bastion.NOVEMBER, 2014: AMIT SHAH’S RALLY
The first time when Mamata Banerjee blocked a major political rally of the BJP in West Bengal was in November, 2014. BJP president Amit Shah was slated to address a public meeting in Kolkata. Kolkata police denied permission to the rally by BJP chief Amit Shah on November 2, 2014.
The BJP moved the West Bengal High Court challenging the police order. The High Court gave the green signal for the political rally, which Shah addressed and launched an attack on Mamata government.
DECEMBER, 2014: BHAGWAT’S RALLY
The second instance, when Mamata tried to block saffron campaign in West Bengal, was a rally, where RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was supposed to speak just a month later in December 2014.
The rally was being organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) at the parade ground in Kolkata. The West Bengal police again denied permission to hold the rally.
The aggrieved party went to the High Court and got permission to hold the rally. At this very rally, Mohan Bhagwat openly defended the Ghar Wapasi programme stoking further controversy on the matter.
SANSAD MELA IN ASANSOL
Since then the saffron brigade has been jostling for more political space in the green Bengal, which was dominated by red communists not long ago before they were ousted by Mamata Banerjee after almost four decades of rule.
The political battle between Mamata Banerjee and the BJP-RSS combine has only intensified after demonetisation in November last year.
Mamata Banerjee is decidedly against letting the BJP-RSS gain any further ground in the state. This approach led to denial of permission to Sansad Mela in Asansol, where BJP MP and union minister Babul Supriyo was supposed to inaugurate the event on Thursday.
The Asansol Municipal Corporation refused to give approval for the Sansad Mela saying that the event ‘may cause stampede’ at the venue. The Asansol Municipal Corporation is ruled by the Trinamool Congress.
Later, the High Court granted permission to hold the function at the Loco ground in Asansol, much to the chagrin of the TMC. BHUKAILASH RALLY
The latest confrontation between Mamata Banerjee and the BJP-RSS combine was the Bhukailash rally, where Mohan Bhagwat was to address the gathering.
Kolkata police denied permission for holding Kolkata Mahanagar Sayam Sevak Sammelan by the RSS at the Bhukailash grounds in Kidderpore, west Kolkata citing law and order and crowd safety issues.
The organisers moved the High Court, which gave a go ahead to the rally.
In the last two instances, the BJP-RSS accused the Mamata government of targeting them for vindictive politics.
They said that the RSS and BJP leadership had secured permission from the Army and Railways to hold the events featuring Babul Supriyo and Mohan Bhagwat at respective places.
Still Mamata government created roadblocks in holding the events, the state BJP said.