Calcutta, May 5: The Calcutta Municipal Corporation has for the second time in over a month denied permission for Rahul Gandhi’s rally on the Park Circus ground, prompting the state Congress to write to the chief election commissioner.
The May 8 rally to be addressed by the Congress vice-president will now be held on the Shahid Minar grounds, which is under the army.
“We had to approach the army for the Shahid Minar grounds at the last moment. We are happy they gave us permission to hold the rally on Thursday,” said Bengal Congress spokesperson Nirbed Roy.
The corporation had not allowed a Rahul meeting on the Park Circus venue on March 25, forcing the party to seek the army’s permission for the Shahid Minar grounds.
Despite inclement weather, Rahul had come to the ground from north Bengal, but could not address the gathering.
Congress leaders today alleged that the ruling establishment denied the permission because it did not want Rahul to reach out to people in Park Circus, traditionally a Trinamul stronghold under the Calcutta South constituency where Mamata Banerjee was once the MP.
Trinamul has fielded Subrata Bakshi in the seat, while the Congress candidate is Mala Roy.
“So we have sent a written complaint to chief election commissioner V.S. Sampath against the Trinamul government’s step-motherly attitude,” said Pradip Ghosh, the Congress’s Central Calcutta district president.
Asked about the denial, Debashis Kumar, the mayor-in-council member responsible for parks and gardens, said tonight that the state government had taken a decision not to allow any political party to hold any rally on Park Circus ground.
“When the Congress approached the Election Commission after being denied permission for the use of the Park Circus ground on March 25, the commission asked us if we would allow any other parties. We had told the poll panel that no party would be allowed,” Kumar said.
A commission official in Delhi said that though there was no specific rule on giving permission for political rallies and meetings in the poll season, “there should not be any preferential treatment while giving government-owned parks for holding political meetings”.
In April last year, the state BJP had expressed unhappiness on being denied the use of Netaji Indoor Stadium for a convention addressed by Narendra Modi. The event was held at Mahajati Sadan.