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Polls ahead, leaders eye rally reprieve

The high court order banning rallies on weekdays has thrown political parties, particularly the CPM, into a quandary. They feel the restrictions may have far-reaching effects. Leaders fear that unless the high court reconsiders its order, it is likely to hinder campaigning during the Lok Sabha polls next year.

The Left Front is looking for a common protest plan against the high court order. “We are discussing the matter and planning a meeting of the Front after the Pujas. But we will have to ensure absolute unity on this score,” said a senior Front leader.

Party insiders said the CPM is exploring legal options to battle the directive against rallies. State party top brass, now in Delhi, is in dialogue with legal experts within the party, like Somnath Chatterjee. Leaders in Calcutta hinted that the CPM’s secretariat meeting, slated for Friday, may be advanced by a day to discuss the issue.

Political parties are also trying to find out whether flouting the court order may have any effect on a candidate’s contesting next year’s Lok Sabha polls, or any other polls. “We want to explore all possibilities. If anyone violates the high court order and a complaint is lodged with the Election Commission, what will happen to the candidate' Will he lose his candidature'” asked a Front leader.

Congress sources said the state party leadership had a word with the high command and is also exploring legal options. It is learnt that state party president Pranab Mukherjee has already spoken to Sonia Gandhi about the order.

“It is of vital importance that opposition parties are allowed to voice their demands and grievances through processions and public meetings. We are thinking of moving an appeal in the appropriate court after the Pujas,” said Somen Mitra, former state Congress president.

The Trinamul Congress feels the order had dealt a blow to the right to carry out a democratic movement against the establishment. Leader of the Opposition Pankaj Banerjee said the right to hold rallies on weekdays should not be taken away from political parties. “We are the only party in Bengal that does normally hold processions and rallies on holidays. But, what do we do if July 21, our martyr’s day, does not fall on a weekend' Still, we have asked our supporters and workers not to inconvenience people by organising rallies on working days,” said Banerjee.

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