The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hall historic, aim rhetoric Convention status ruled venue choice

Mahajati Sadan, about a kilometre from the seat of governance, is the closest the Bengal government is getting to directly disregarding the Calcutta High Court verdict against road-blocking rallies.

When Left Front leaders pit revolutions and rallies against Justice Amitava Lala and his ruling banishing rallies from work-day Calcutta, on Wednesday, they will be speaking from a dais under the direct control of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government.

The decision to rent out the auditorium was not taken without carefully weighing the pros and cons of a move that might put the government on a collision course with the judiciary.

“If speakers use the Mahajati Sadan stage to attack the judiciary in words similar to those used by Left Front chairman Biman Bose, then the government may find it difficult to prove that it has not been conniving with those spreading anti-judiciary sentiments,” said a senior official connected with vetting applications from those wanting to use Mahajati Sadan.

It was this logic that threw up an alternative venue for the “mass convention” at Saturday’s Left Front meet, where the plan of action to protest Justice Lala’s September 29 judgment restricting rallies was chalked out.

That alternative — just in case the government and the party decide to play it safe — was the Calcutta District Committee (CDC) office of the CPM, Alimuddin Street sources said.

More time was given to the choice of venue as Mahajati Sadan functions within the purview of the information and cultural affairs department, headed by the chief minister himself. Ultimately, however, Mahajati Sadan was chosen because the CDC office would have “detracted from the mass-convention nature of Wednesday’s programme”.

It was only then that the Sadan administration was asked to “block” October 8 for the anti-high court programme, the Alimuddin Street sources added. The Left Front has booked the hall — with a seating capacity of exactly 1,309 — for four hours, starting 5.30 pm.

But those connected with overseeing the programme said the meet was not likely to continue for the entire four hours. Four hours is the minimum duration for which the hall can be booked, for the minimum payment of Rs 7,500 (plus Rs 1,000 as caution money), they explained.

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