The BJP’s plan to hold a rath yatra in West Bengal suffered a setback on Tuesday with the Supreme Court refusing to interfere with the Mamata Banerjee government’s decision to ban it. A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said that apprehension of violence by the state government was not unfounded. However, the top court said the West Bengal BJP unit can conduct meetings and rallies. If the saffron party comes out with a revised plan for the yatra, the court said it might consider the matter again.
Arguing for the Bengal government, Abhishek Manu Singhvi cited an intel report suggesting the rath yatra, which is proposed to go through many 'sensitive' areas in the state, can cause a riot. The apex court said that the Bengal government's apprehension is not baseless, even though senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi argued that the yatra is anything but communal. This was said in reference to Singhvi telling the bench that each district police, in their report, expressed fear of communal tension if the yatra was to be given a go ahead.
The BJP rally planned to cover 42 parliamentary constituencies in Bengal ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls. As per the original schedule, BJP president Amit Shah was to launch the yatra from Cooch Behar on December 7, Kakdwip in South 24 Parganas on December 9 and from Tarapith temple in Birbhum on December 14.