Rajat Sharma

Mamata should not throttle democracy by denying permissions for BJP’s public meetings

akb_frame_64496West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s government refused permission to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s helicopter to land in Bankura on Tuesday, and the BJP rally had to be cancelled. Yogi however managed to land his chopper in Barmasia near Bokaro in neighbouring Jharkhand, and travelled nearly 30 km by road to address a huge gathering in Purulia. Two more senior BJP leaders Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Shahnawwaz Hussain were denied permission to hold rallies in Murshidabad district. Similarly, on Sunday, Yogi’s chopper was denied permission to land in Balurghat, North Bengal, and he had to address the gathering via phone.

Denying permission to hold public meetings amounts to throttling the democratic aspirations of the people, that too, by a leader who is herself crying hoarse over “Save Democracy” slogan.

I would again like to remind Mamata Banerjee of the days when the then ruling Left Front used to prevent her from addressing gatherings, and their goons used to beat up Trinamool Congress supporters. Mamata had to struggle for more than a decade against Left Front rule in the face of bomb attacks, stoning and arson carried out by Left Front cadres.

It surprises me when I find the same leader imposing blanket restrictions on landing of helicopters and holding of public meetings by the BJP. This does not augur well for democracy. Every political party has the right to hold public meetings, and Mamata Banerjee must know that she would herself campaign using chopper during the Lok Sabha poll in BJP-ruled states. What would happen if the BJP decides to repay her back with the same coin?

It is true that Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is facing a strong political challenge from the BJP in West Bengal, but as a seasoned political leader, she should know how to tackle such a challenge politically. This challenge cannot be met through administrative orders denying permission in order to throttle democracy.

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