Right, Left rallies to throw Kolkata traffic out of gear

The city is heading for chaotic day when traffic movement will be restricted and vehicles will move at a snail’s pace due to the rallies by the VHP and People’s Platform

Updated - November 16, 2021 04:50 pm IST

Published - December 20, 2014 11:01 am IST - Kolkata

A banner put up by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad at the Dalhousie Square tom-toms, in Kolkata.

A banner put up by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad at the Dalhousie Square tom-toms, in Kolkata.

Important intersections of Kolkata and adjoining areas are peppered with posters saying, Amra Sobai Hindu (We are all Hindus) to publicise the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) rally scheduled later in the day in city’s downtown area.

The first of its kind rally called in Kolkata by Hindu nationalist organisations is to be addressed by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, along with VHP’s chief patron Ashok Singhal and senior leader Pravin Togadia to mark completion of 50 years of VHP. While organisers including VHP’s general secretary Chinmay Dutta claim that the rally is aimed to provide “new direction” to the Hindu society in the wake of recent developments in West Bengal, including the blast at Bardhaman, the gathering assumes significance amidst the changing political dynamics of the State. It comes at a time when the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) government here is facing the heat of Saradha scam with arrest of its party leaders, there is also a visible rise in the support base of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the right wing forces in the State.

 “The rally is a part of a well thought out policy of the BJP and Sangh Parivar aimed at the 2016 general elections in the State,” West Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told  The Hindu , describing it as an ominous sign for a State where every third person is from a minority community. Expressing disapproval of the language of the posters, AITC MP Sultan Ahmed said it is part of a plot by the BJP government at the Centre. 

So far West Bengal has been immune so such developments. Now we have to remain alert,” Mr Ahmed told  The Hindu .

Challenge from the Left

 A Left-leaning citizen’s collective, Ganamancha (People’s Platform) has decided to confront the nationalist organisations and planned a rally little further north from the downtown around the time Mr. Bhagwat will be addressing the gathering in front of famous Grand Hotel, in Shahid Minar grounds.

 “India does not merely comprise Hindus, there are people belonging to other religions who reside in India as well. We are all Indians, it is not a country for only one particular religion. The poster is an attempt by them [the VHP] to incite religious sentiments among the people,” Prosenjit Bose, one of the founder activist of the collective said. Bose, the former research cell head of the CPI-M in Delhi, was expelled from the party in 2012.

 Another expelled CPI (M) leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah who will also be present in the rally of  Ganamancha said that  they will be organising a protest meet under the banner of Aamra Bharatiya [We are Indians] soon. However, it is not clear whether the CPI (M) is encouraging its erstwhile leaders from student and peasant front to take a hard line stance against the nationalist outfit’s weekend rally.

Though such rallies by groups believing in opposing ideologies on the same day are not new to the city, on Saturday Kolkata will witness meetings which may indicate course of future politics. “This could well be interpreted as an early sign of a future rivalry where political parties, hardcore nationalist or secular organisations and individuals with diametrically dissimilar ideologies will be vying to win electors attention,” said a Political Scientist from Kolkata University, on condition of anonymity.

While the city’s police has mobilised additional forces to keep proceedings under control, the city is heading for another chaotic day in central Kolkata when traffic movement will be restricted and vehicles will move at a snail’s pace.

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