In a major roll back to the blanket ban on political rallies at historic College Square, Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government has decided to relax the embargo. It can’t be termed as a complete roll back as political parties will be allowed to hold rallies on Sundays and on other holidays when adjacent schools and colleges are closed. Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar categorically said,” The restriction to hold rallies at College Square was taken keeping the inconvenience of the students in mind. But on Sunday’s rallies can be held here.”
Incidentally, the decision to ban all sorts of rallies at College Square received strong backlash from all political parties. College Square has been a historical place with regard to political agitations ever since the British era. The decision of state government was considered to be absolutely against freedom of expression considering the strong presence of student organisations in adjacent Presidency and Calcutta University campuses.
With this roll back, the issue has taken a sharp turn and opposition parties are now asking whether the government is at all sincere to the interests of the student community. Let’s not forget, in most of the rural colleges and those in Kolkata and suburbs, there have been complaints with regard to student politics and admission too.
The decision to ban rallies at College Square was indeed a politically motivated one, especially the Left front, who often utilise the adjacent area of College Square for their rallies concerning various issues. There is no denying the fact that the TMC government faced stiff criticism from their own leaders on this matter and this partial rollback was rather imminent considering their populist approach in administrative matters.