Siliguri (WB) | West Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Friday said the party encountered difficulties in obtaining permission to organise certain public meetings during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in the state, prompting a strong retort from the ruling TMC, which accused him of echoing BJP's rhetoric.
Speaking to reporters in Siliguri, Chowdhury said the schedule of the yatra was submitted to the state administration long ago.
"In some places, we are not getting permission to organise public meetings, citing exams. The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra has faced problems in the Northeast, including Assam, and now it is facing problems in TMC-ruled West Bengal as well," he said.
"We were denied permission to hold a public meeting in Siliguri. We expected better cooperation from the state government. The route and the itinerary of the yatra remain the same except for a few changes," he added.
Asserting that the Rahul Gandhi-led yatra was a movement to safeguard the Constitution, Chowdhury claimed that it had nothing to do with the Lok Sabha elections.
Speaking on the issue on Thursday night, Chowdhury had said they thought they would get "relaxations" in some places in West Bengal for public meetings but the administration "is saying that they can't give it".
The yatra, which began in Manipur on January 14, entered West Bengal from Assam on Thursday, and took a two-day break. It will resume on January 28.
The ruling Trinamool Congress, however, claimed that the administration in West Bengal is free of political influences.
"Adhir Chowdhury is responsible for the INDIA alliance falling apart in West Bengal. Second, all opposition parties conduct programmes in the state, nobody faces any problems. The administration must have taken the decision as there are board examinations in schools," TMC MP Santanu Sen said.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh accused Chowdhury of speaking the language of the BJP.
"Adhir Chowdhury is an agent of the BJP. He speaks their language. Today also he is making those allegations on the instructions of the saffron camp. The TMC has nothing to do with the permission of the yatra," he said.
Taking a dig, the BJP said Congress was getting a taste of "authoritarianism" from its ally.
"Does the TMC own West Bengal that they will decide who will get permission to hold a rally? Now, the Congress, which complains against the BJP, is getting a taste of authoritarianism from its own ally TMC," BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said.
Reacting to the development, BJP co-in-charge for West Bengal and IT department head Amit Malviya said in a post on X, "Mamata Banerjee's decision to deny Rahul Gandhi's yatra permission is like the last nail in the coffin of I.N.D.I Alliance. The decision is intended to humiliate the Congress. The excuse that it has been done in view of exams is a sham."
"There is no such compulsion because exams start on 2nd Feb and the Yatra was to enter Siliguri region on 28th Jan! A nervous Mamata Banerjee is doing all this in the hope that she can contest all seats in West Bengal, to remain relevant after results," Malviya said.
"But it is interesting to see the Congress suffer from 'stockholm syndrome' and continue to plead Mamata Banerjee to join the yatra for just 5 minutes." He said.