Kolkata: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), ideological parent of the central ruling party BJP, faced ‎a setback on Wednesday when the Calcutta High Court on technical grounds disposed off its petition seeking permission to hold a rally in Kolkata. RSS had planned a rally in the city on January 14 in the presence of its head, Mohan ‎Bhagwat.

Justice Joymalya Bagchi of the Calcutta High Court noted that the petition had several technical issues. While it was not filed by the same person who had applied to the city police for permission, there was also nothing to suggest in the appeal that the petitioner represented the organisation in any way. Even the application made to the police was not made in an RSS letterhead. The court, however, stated that if a fresh application is made, the police should “preferably within 24 hours” give its reply in accordance with the law.

With barely three days left for the rally, the Hindu organisation has been left in a tight spot, more so since Bhagwat is scheduled to reach Kolkata on January 13, a day before the planned rally.

The RSS had initially applied to hold the rally at  Kidderpore in West Kolkata but did not get police permission. Later, the RSS planned to hold the rally at the Shahid Minar grounds in downtown Kolkata’s Espalande, where Bhagwat would give the keynote address.

The city police, however, refused permission, stating that another event was pre-scheduled at the venue. The Sangh then wanted permission to hold the rally at the Brigade Parade grounds, the site of many historic rallies. While the Hindu organisation claimed to have in possession a no-objection certificate from the Army, custodian of the grounds, the police agreed to give permission only if RSS came back with no-obejction certificates from the city civic body, the state pollution control board and the state public works department.

Finding the police somewhat non-cooperative and believing that the state administration was likely to scuttle the rally, RSS went to court, seeking an order that would make the police allow them to hold the rally at the Brigade Parade grounds.

Justice Bagchi, however, found technical issues with the petition and asked RSS to make a fresh application to the police using proper instruments. The court also stated that if the city police did not give its stamp of approval in 24 hours, RSS could come back to court with proper paperwork.

While political insiders believe that RSS’ plan to hold the rally at Kidderpore was in a bid to provoke local Muslims at a time when several small communal flashes have been reported from different parts of the state, holding a rally at Brigade would need much more than the Sangh’s present strength in Bengal.

Even though the number of RSS sakhas or chapters has exponentially grown in the last few years across the state, insiders doubt whether the organisation had the strength to gather on January 14 around a lakh supporters, kind of a magic number to make any sort of waves.

While the RSS seems stymied for the time being in the efforts to hold its first rally at Brigade, RSS pranta pracharak Bidyut Mukherjee said that they will hold an internal meeting on Wednesday and announce its future course of action on Thursday.

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