The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Impossible & impractical: Parties

The Left Front government has mooted a set of proposals to regulate rallies in Calcutta. The reaction of the Opposition parties and some of the front allies follow:

The government proposed to allow processions bound for Brigade Parade Ground and Shahid Minar only on Saturday, Sunday or holidays

Trinamul Congress: It is impossible to stick to it. Only rallies that have been fixed up from before can be held on the weekend or holidays. “What about a suddenly convened meeting that may have a huge turnout. Our July 21 programme will not always fall on Saturdays and Sundays,” said MLA Partha Chatterjee.

Congress: Rallies at two venues and on holidays is not possible. “People may react to a sudden development. It may be a police firing or something else,” said party vice-president Pradip Bhattacharya.

SUCI: A totally unworkable proposition. Processions, big or small, are always held when there is need for them. “We undertake many programmes every year, like our party’s foundation day on August 5. There is no guarantee they will always be on holidays,” said Provas Ghosh, the party’s state secretary.

CPI: Brigade and Shahid Minar are not places to hold spontaneous rallies. “It requires at least a three-month preparation to hold a rally at Brigade but we often organise rallies at a three-hour notice,” said state party secretary Manju Kumar Majumdar.

RSP: It will not be possible for all political parties to hold rallies at the Brigade. “There should be space for smaller parties also,” said RSP leader and former PWD minister Kshiti Goswami.

Forward Bloc: No comments

Organisers will avoid choking roads during peak hours — from 9 am to 11 am and 4 pm to 6 pm

Trinamul: Deep down, the government intends to bring out rallies during working hours and on weekdays. “Otherwise, it would not have tried to bring up such a restriction,” said Partha Chatterjee.

Congress: An absurd proposal. “Once a few thousand people begin a march, there is bound to be traffic dislocation. The proposal, if accepted, will only be on paper,” said Pradip Bhattacharya.

SUCI: It is ridiculous. “How can you bring out a procession of say 20,000 and not choke the road'” asked Provas Ghosh.

CPI: “We are apprehensive. Any rally, big or small, will disrupt traffic,” said a CPI leader requesting anonymity.

RSP: There is logic in it. If people in a procession can really make way for traffic in peak hours, there should not be any problem. “We should always ensure public convenience,” said Kshiti Goswami.

No rally will be held at Esplanade East and on Rani Rashmoni Avenue in the central business district

Trinamul: Rallies at these two places should not be banned on Sundays and holidays. “If political parties utilise Esplanade East and Rani Rashmoni Avenue to hold rallies on holidays, there will be no disturbance to any one,” said Partha Chatterjee.

Congress: There should be at least one venue among the two where rallies can be held. “We must have a place in the heart of the city to hold a rally,” said Pradip Bhattacharya.

SUCI: One of the venues should be there for rallies and public meetings. “Most political parties want to draw the attention of either the chief minister or the governor. It is convenient from these places to approach Writers’ Buildings or Raj Bhavan.

CPI: “These places are ideal to hold rallies and draw the attention of the government,” said Manju Kumar Majumdar.

RSP: “One of the venues must be there for rallies.”

Processions will move along one side of the road, occupying one lane and abiding by traffic signals

Trinamul: This is absurd. “When thousands march, it requires a Herculean effort to make it follow traffic lights. This will lead to more chaos,” said Partha Chatterjee.

Congress: Impossible. “It is very difficult to march in a single file. How can you compare vehicular traffic with people'” asked Pradip Bhattacharya.

SUCI: Most impractical. “Is it possible to take a procession of thousands in a single file' I don’t think so,” said Provas Ghosh.

CPI: It will be difficult to restrict a rally to a single file and even more difficult to make it go by traffic lights,” said a leader requesting anonymity.

RSP: Going by the culture of Calcutta’s rally culture, processionists will have to be educated to walk on the streets without disrupting traffic, said a leader who did not want to be named.

Big rallies will only be held at Brigade and Shahid Minar. Small and medium rallies will be held at Tala Park and Deshabandhu Park in north Calcutta, Subodh Mullick Square in central and Deshapriya Park in the south.

Trinamul: Very few parties can organise a decent gathering at Brigade or Shahid Minar. “And it is very difficult to determine from before which rally will be small and which will be a medium one,” said Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, chief whip of the legislature party.

Congress: The government should come out with a definition of “small” and “medium” rallies. “Often a 500-strong procession becomes more than 2,000-strong by the time it reaches its destination,” said Pradip Bhattacharya.

SUCI: Big rallies for Brigade is okay. “But holding rallies in parks may be difficult as many of them have been converted into green patches and flower gardens have been set up,” said Provas Ghosh.

CPI: The parks mentioned in the draft are places political rallies were earlier held. “But many of them have been beautified and there may not be enough space for a modest gathering, said a CPI leader.

RSP: Small parties will not be able to hold rallies at Brigade. “It will be good if the government can steer smaller rallies to these parks. The government should also lay down the routes of the rallies to these parks or else there will be possibility of traffic chaos,” said Kshiti Goswami.

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