In what is being seen as embarrassment for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bengal unit, former mayor of Kolkata Sovan Chatterjee, who was recently appointed the party’s observer for Kolkata zone, skipped a massive road show in the city on Monday.
There was also a flare up as BJP supporters came face to face with Trinamool Congress workers during the road show. Police, however, managed to prevent any clash between the two rival parties.
The BJP’s Bengal unit had organized a massive road show, which Chatterjee was supposed to lead along with Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP’s national general secretary and the party’s observer for the state.
Chatterjee had joined the BJP in August 2019 but had stayed away from active politics. Monday’s road show was being seen as a comeback for the former TMC heavyweight leader. He was recently appointed as the Bengal BJP’s Kolkata zone observer. His friend Baisakhi Banerjee was made the co-convener of the Kolkata zone.
According to BJP leaders, aware of the development, all was set for the rally and late-night meetings were also held with Chatterjee in the latter’s residence last night.
Banerjee, however, told a section of the media on Monday morning that she was not invited and hence would not be attending the rally. Later, Chatterjee also refused to attend the rally. HT could not get in touch with Chatterjee as his phone was switched off.
In a damage control exercise, top BJP leaders said that it was a party rally and an individual is not important.
“The party is more important than an individual. The rally was held despite the police and TMC trying to create obstacles,” said Samik Bhattacharya, BJP’s spokesperson for West Bengal.
The TMC took the opportunity to hit back with some sarcasm.
“The BJP made a mistake when they made a deal – buy one get one free,” said Kunal Ghosh, a TMC spokesperson.
The rally’s route also had to be cut short and the number of vehicles in the rally had to be curtailed as Kolkata Police did not give permission.
The roadshow was finally led by senior BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya, party’s National vice president Mukul Roy and MP Arjun Singh.
Senior TMC leader and state minister Firhad Hakim said, “We are not bothered if the BJP takes out a rally as we have other important work to do.”