NRC: Statewide protests by TMC to coincide with Shah's Kolkata rally today

BJP torch rally A torch rally by BJP leaders in Kolkata in the run-up to the rally to be addressed by party chief Amit Shah | PTI

While the BJP is pulling all stops to ensure the success of the Yuva Swabhiman Samavesh Rally in Kolkata on Saturday that will be addressed by party chief Amit Shah, the ruling Trinamool Congress is organising protests across the state over the exclusion of 40 lakh people from Assam's recently published draft National Register of Citizens.

TMC secretary general and state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee announced on Friday that the party's rallies would cover the entire state, excluding Kolkata. “A separate rally will be taken out in the capital city on Sunday," Chatterjee told reporters.

West Bengal BJP unit president Dilip Ghosh alleged that the TMC wanted to instigate violence during Shah's rally and also prevent people from other parts of the state from reaching the venue in Kolkata. He warned that “If they [TMC] create trouble, they will get a befitting reply from the people of this state.”

Ghosh also revealed he had written a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh about Shah's rally."In the letter, I have apprised Rajnath Singh of the situation—how our workers, who are coming to attend our rally, are being attacked. The TMC and the police administration have joined hands. I have requested him to tell the state government to ensure the safety and security of the BJP workers," Ghosh said.

The Yuva Swabhiman Samavesh Rally is being projected as a show of strength by the BJP. Being organised at Kolkata's Mayo Street, the rally is scheduled to begin at 11am on Saturday. Shah is expected to address the event at 1pm. A senior BJP leader had claimed “lakhs” of people would attend the event and demanded that the party be allowed to deploy drones to monitor Shah's rally.

Shah had earlier dared the state government to arrest him, signalling his determination to go ahead with the Kolkata rally irrespective of whether it had been granted permission.

The TMC's decision to hold rallies over the NRC is linked to apprehensions that Shah will play up demands for a similar exercise in West Bengal. Shortly after the release of the NRC in Assam, Ghosh had declared the BJP would conduct a similar exercise in West Bengal if it was voted to power in the state.

(With PTI inputs)