In a major show of strength before the upcoming assembly election, West Bengal BJP’s youth wing has called a massive agitation in Kolkata on Thursday with around five lakh people expected to hit the streets.
The rally may cause major traffic snarls in the city, but it has also sparked huge concerns over the chances of COVID-19 virus transmission.
Lakhs of people will march to Nabanna, the state secretariat, at noon and then hold a major public meeting, protesting against the killing of the BJP workers in the state. BJP’s national youth wing chief Tejasvi Surya arrived in Kolkata on Wednesday. Party workers from several districts have started flocking to the city. Kolkata Police, however, is leaving no stone unturned to check the flooding of BJP leaders in Kolkata.
In a major decision, West Bengal government declared holiday for secretariat staffers on Thursday. The government, however, said it decided to close the office to sanitise the Nabanna.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, along with senior officials, has been touring the districts. Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma has held a meeting with all deputy commissioners of Kolkata to chalk out a plan to prevent any untoward incident.
“Police will barricade all major entry points in the city,” said a senior police officer at Lalbazar.
Saumitra Khan, MP and chief of BJP state youth wing, said that if the police try to block the procession, they will be responsible for the repercussion.
“Tomorrow will be a major day in the history of Bengal BJP. We are warning police not to do any mistake,” said Khan.
The hit-the-street programme has gathered steam after the murder of a BJP leader in Barackpore of North 24 Parganas allegedly by Trinamool Congress workers. The leader, Manish Shukla, a BJP councillor and an advocate, was very close to the MP of Barackpore, Arjun Singh.
“Just see the flood tomorrow. Manish’s soul will be revived tomorrow in Kolkata. Mamata Banerjee will understand how her support base has slipped away,” said Singh.
The processions will come from Kolkata and its adjoining districts like North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan and Nadia. Around one lakh policemen will be deployed across the city on Wednesday. Nabanna is connected through a bridge over the Hooghly river and there will be barricades at the entrance of the bridge. A Special Task Force of the Kolkata Police will be in charge to give protection to the Nabanna which falls in the jurisdiction of Howrah police.
Sources said senior BJP leaders of the state, including the state observers of the party, will be present at the rally. They said there were dilemmas in the BJP over holding such a mammoth rally during the pandemic. In fact, party state president Dilip Ghosh was initially reluctant to give permission for it. But, finally he agreed as the election is round the corner and the party cannot sit idle.
The Nabanna Chalo agitation is being organised at a time when out of 530 private hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in Kolkata, only 13 beds are vacant till the morning of October 7.