Kolkata auditorium cancels booking for RSS chief's event

PTI10_16_2015_000058B [File] RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat | PTI

West Bengal government has denied permission to a trust close to RSS to hold a meeting at historic Mahajati Sadan auditorium in Kolkata where RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was supposed to speak.

The event to commemorate the life and journey of Sister Nivedita, a close associate of Swami Vivekananda, was scheduled for October 3 and it got canceled by the auditorium authorities without giving any reason. Bhagwat was to be the main speaker on the occasion along with West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathy.

The organising committee had already paid more than Rs 15,000 as one-day rent for the auditorium. They were asked to get a no objection certificate from the Kolkata police, but before that could be obtained the authorities of the Mahajati Sadan auditorium canceled the meeting.

State government officials have refused to make any comment on the issue. A senior official of the home department told THE WEEK, “The mater is extremely sensitive. It’s not proper for me to make any comment. The chief minister would say if something needs to be said.”

A highly placed source in the state government said that Mahajati Sadan authorities had approved the function and that’s why they even accepted the money they charged. But a call came from the CMO in the last hour asking them not to grant permission for Bhagawat’s function.

“We canceled the meeting because our auditorium would be going through repairment. Air condition system would be changed along with other facilities. So we told them about our inability to hold the function,” said Nurul Hooda, secretary of the auditorium.

Jishnu Basu, RSS secretary in Kolkata, condemned the attitude of Mamata Banerjee government. “This is the most fundamentalist government in our country. The present chief minister has sacrificed all her philosophies for the fundamentalists people surrounding her,” said he.

The RSS hinted that they might knock the door of Calcutta High Court.

The auditorium was created by a joint effort of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Rabindra Nath Tagore. Tagore laid the foundation stone of the auditorium which he called as “house of Nation” in 1939. 

Tagore gave a fiery speech at Mahajati Sadan on August 19, 1939 where he called for complete freedom of India.

Since then, Mahajati Sadan was an important place for Indian national movement where freedom fighters were sheltered and groomed by Bose and others.

Mahajati Sadan is now owned by the government of West Bengal as a symbol of Indian freedom struggle. The auditorium hosts important meetings, theaters and concerts.

The latest controversy comes weeks after the RSS chief was denied permission to hoist national flag at a government-aided school in Kerala's Palakkad on the Independence Day. He, however, unfurled the flag defying the order from the district collector.

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