New Delhi: In an ever-changing status of the BJP’s much anticipated rath yatra in Bengal, the division bench of Calcutta high court has now quashed the earlier order that allowed the BJP to take out its three rath yatras starting Saturday. In a rather bizarre move, the division bench has sent the case back to the single judge bench. Stuck like a pendulum between judicial review and stern Opposition from the Mamata Banerjee government, the latest development comes as a big set back to the Bengal BJP that released a poster saying “Rath yatra hochhei (the rath yatra is happening), soon after Thursday’s verdict allowing the saffron party to take out the yatra.

Why is it bad news for BJP?

The division bench’s quashing means that they have to appeal against it to set aside Friday’s order. But the legal complication starts with the fact that the winter holiday of the Calcutta high court begins from Saturday, December 22. This means that the BJP’s rath yatra goes into limbo.

Options before BJP

The immediate option available to the BJP is to move the vacation bench of the Calcutta high court that will take care of cases during the winter vacation. But another option is to wait till January 2 when the high court reopens. They are free to challenge Friday’s order on January 2 itself. The third option, that sources in BJP indicate will be the favoured option, given the sudden turn of events, is that the BJP can move the Supreme Court. 

The case so far

BJP’s ‘save democracy’ rath yatra was opposed tooth and nail by the Mamata government. It moved the court of law opposing the yatra citing a ‘intel report’ suggesting that it can disrupt law and order situation and evoke ‘communal’ passion, particularly in areas like Cooch Behar. A single judge bench of the Calcutta high court bought the argument and stopped the BJP from going ahead. The Bengal BJP challenged it at the division bench of the same high court, where it struck down the earlier order and allowed the party to go ahead with some minor riders. In fact, the high court came down heavily calling the Mamata Banerjee government’s stand on ‘intel report’ as ‘imaginary’. But in this battle of egos, the Bengal government quickly challenged this and the court sent it back to the single bench, quashing the order that allowed BJP to take out the rath yatra.

What’s this rath yatra all about?

The BJP wanted to hold a ‘save democracy’ rath yatra, in fact, three of them, cutting across all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies of Bengal. Each rath yatra would culminate into a massive rally to be addressed by BJP president Amit Shah. There was a mega rally planned, as the penultimate rally was scheduled to be addressed by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

With the Calcutta high court’s change of heart and political boxing, the BJP’s rath yatra is in limbo, at least till the new year.