On a day West Bengal witnessed competitive politics playing out over Ram Navami celebrations, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has slammed the BJP alleging that the party was trying to hijack the religious event for political gains.
"It has nothing to do with you (BJP). Don't try claiming Ram Navami as your own programme", she said, reminding that several religious groups had been observing the day in the state for years.
Ironically, even as the Trinamool Congress supremo hit out at the BJP for trying to usurp credit for holding religious celebrations on account of Ram Navami, her party members could be heard chanting "Jai Shree Ram" in processions across districts.
TMC's RAM NAVAMI PROCESSION IN DARJEELING
In Darjeeling, the party's district youth unit took out a "Ram Navami" procession with Trinamool flags and banners at the Siliguri Gandhi Maidan. In Howrah, Trinamool Congress Minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla led a huge rally with saffron flags on the occasion. Similar rallies were taken out in Birbhum district as well. "We have been celebrating Ram Navami too. It's not that Lord Rama got enrolled in the BJP. Let's not politicise a religious event", said senior Bengal minister Subrata Mukherjee.
Speaking at an administrative meeting in Bankura district, Mamata also accused the BJP of using Hindu symbols to gain political mileage. "We all chant 'Om'. It's not your party symbol. Who has given them (BJP) the right to insult 'Om'. They are using Hindu symbols for party events while chanting sabka saaath, sabka vikas!", she said.
"India is a country of 33 crore gods and goddesses. Some worship Ram while others worship Rahim. Just as we celebrate Durga and Kali puja, similarly I fast during Ramzan", Mamata said accusing the BJP of trying to create a communal divide in the state.
TRINAMOOL'S DECISION TO CELEBRATE AN AFTERTHOUGHT?
But the Trinamool Congress' decision to celebrate the event seemed more of an afterthought. This after West Bengal BJP unit President Dilip Ghosh sent an open invitation to all his MLAs, including those of the ruling party, to take part in religious processions on the occasion of Ram Navami.
"We stand for all castes, creed, religions and communities. We cannot single out any particular festival and celebration. We celebrate Durga puja, Kali Puja, Santoshi Ma, Eid, Christmas and Guru Nanak," said a Trinamool Congress MLA in Birbhum.
"The decision to celebrate Ram Navami as an afterthought was political. She must have realised that the party could not lose the Hindi-speaking votebank in north and central Kolkata, Howrah, Bhowanipore and in some other districts. Moreover, the areas where consolidation of Hindus is happening under the BJP are troublesome and Mamata cannot afford to lose Hindu supporters. The Trinamool Congress government has been indulging in appeasement of minorities," said Biswanath Chakrabarty, Professor of RBU and poll analyst.
DON'T HAVE TO LEARN ABOUT RAMA FROM BJP: MAMATA
"Do we have to learn about Rama and Ram Navami from them", Mamata Banerjee had sarcastically said at a government programme at Jhargram yesterday.
To her, Rama is the symbol of "good" fighting against the "evil forces." She equated the evil forces with the "comrades," not elaborating whether she meant the CPI(M) comrades or the cadres of VHP and RSS.
She chanted long Sanskrit shlokas at a programme today to show that she believed in and respected all religions.