Kolkata, Jan 12 (IANS): Clashes broke out on Friday between workers of the state's ruling Trinamool Congress and activists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM)'s Bengal unit just before the latter were to take out a "Protirodh Sankalp Abhiyan" bike rally in the city.
According to leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- of which BJYM is the youth wing, the first incident took place near Binani Bhawan in Pathuriaghata Street in central Kolkata and the second outside state party headquarters.
They alleged that some Trinamool workers hurled stones at the BJP members and also attacked them with sticks when BYJM workers were trying to organise a bike rally towards Swami Vivekananda's home in the city on the occasion of his birth anniversary.
But, denying the allegations, the ruling party in the state accused the BJP workers of indulging in vandalism.
"Trinamool men attacked our workers at several places when they were all set to take out our scheduled bike rally after getting the Calcutta High Court's order on Thursday," state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh told reporters.
"First, they attacked our workers at Binani Bhawan and later they assaulted our workers outside the party's state headquarters. Despite having the court order, we are not being allowed to take out the bike rally," he said and demanded imposition of President's rule in the state.
Ghosh launched a sit-in demonstration in front of Gandhi Statue in the city to protest "the Trinamool high-handedness".
Later in the day, a BJP delegation met Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi to apprise him of the incident.
BJP leader Mukul Roy said: "The opposition is not allowed to exercise its rights and has been continuously coming under attack from the ruling party workers."
According to him, there is "no democracy in West Bengal" and it had been "proved again and again".
Slamming the pro-Hindutva party, Trinamool Congress leader and state Minister Subrata Mukherjee alleged that the BJP's programmes were "provocative".
"The state government had never said that they would not be allowed to take out the rally. The state did not give permission for such a rally in view of the Gangasagar Mela (fair). They can organise such rallies later and we have no issue. Their programmes are provocative," he said.
The two parties are engaged in a political slugfest over holding Swami Vivekananda's birthday celebrations.
Another state Minister Shashi Panja said the BJP wanted to hijack the birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda and was indulging in politics over it.
"BJP workers destroyed public property and beat up local people. They have used the occasion of the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda to indulge in hooliganism. They brought their workers from outside to create tension here," she said.
Ghosh said the Trinamool Congress should not think that they had the only right to celebrate Vivekananda's birth anniversary.
The vehicle of Special Officer Ravi Shankar Dutta, who was appointed by the Calcutta High Court to monitor the BJP's bike rally, was also damaged.
The BJP Yuva Morcha had decided to take out a bike rally across the state from January 11 to 18 as part of its Pratirodh Sankalp Abhiyan.
However, the police did not allow them, following which the BJP moved the Calcutta High Court. The court has granted the party permission to organise the rally but with certain conditions.
The matter was taken up for further consideration in the court on Friday.
"During the hearing in the High Court on Friday, we have demanded deployment of central force during the rally. The court, however, allowed organising the bike rally from January 15 after the state agreed to provide forces for protection from that day in the court. We, now, have suspended the rally temporarily but will take the decision in due course," Ghosh said.