To trace birthplace and place of martyrdom of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee

Even as a controversy raged over the rath yatra to Srinagar, planned by the Bharatiya Janata Party's youth wing, the party announced on Wednesday the yatra would begin from here on January 12 to trace “the birthplace and place of martyrdom” of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, a father figure of the BJP.

The procession will travel through 11 States over 14 days before culminating at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Republic Day, where the BJP has announced that it would hoist the national flag.

“We have decided to start the rally from Kolkata, to connect it with the birthplace of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, and end it in Srinagar, at the place of his sacrifice,” Vani Tripathi, BJP national secretary, said at a press conference here.

The 14-day ‘Rastriya Ekta Yatra' will begin on January 12, commemorating the 150{+t}{+h} birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. BJP president Nitin Gadkari and the party's senior leadership will be present at both the flagging-off and the yatra's reception in Srinagar.

Responding to reports that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had expressed his reservations about the BJP's announcement of hoisting the national flag at Lal Chowk, Rajya Sabha MP Chandan Mitra reiterated that the flag would definitely be hoisted.

“He [Mr. Abdullah] must clarify whether or not he, as Chief Minister, will hoist the national flag on Republic Day. Separatist leaders will also have to declare which flag will be hoisted if it is not the national flag. Every last worker of the BJP will strive to hoist the national flag there,” Mr. Mitra said.

According to the BJP leaders, the procession is a “nationalistic call to remind the youth about the matrydom of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee.”

On the Maoist situation in West Bengal, Mr. Mitra said his party was against the withdrawal of Central forces deployed in parts of the State's southwest.

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