Kolkata, April 5 (IANS) Various Hindu rightwing groups affiliated to the RSS organised rallies backed by the BJP on the occasion of Ram Navmi in West Bengal on Wednesday, with participants including children in many of the processions carrying traditional arms like swords, tridents and bows and arrows.
Most senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders took part in the colourful rallies in the city and the districts, with its state President Dilip Ghosh himself holding aloft a sword in a procession within his constituency Kharagpur in West Midnapore district.
Reccurrent cries of “Jai Sri Ram” rent the air, while the rallyists also raised slogans for the construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhaya. Others chanted “Har Har Mahadev” as saffron flags flung high from motorbikes that whizzed through the city and districts.
In Kolkata, Ram Navmi processions were taken out from 22 points, including Bhowanipore and Garia-Jadavpur, and traversed all major arterial roads, with tableaux carrying the idols of Ram and Sita and people dressed up like the duo and Laxman grabbing attention.
With the BJP perceived to be celebrating the occasion to make fresh inroads into the state, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came down heavily on the party for “appropriating festivals” and accused it of insulting the ‘Om’ symbol by using it in political rallies.
“Do not hold Ram Navmi programme claiming the festival to be your exclusive thing. Do not try to incite unrest. For thousands of years various religious organisations have been carrying on Ram Navami rallies,” she said at a public rally in Bankura.
“There is no connection with the BJP. Party is planting flags and placing ‘Om’ symbols. You can sit at home and chant ‘Om’. How can they (BJP) use religious symbols in political rally? Is it your party’s symbol? Who has given you the right to insult the ‘Om’ symbol?,” Banerjee fumed.
She also lashed out at the BJP for resorting to politics of divisiveness in Bengal.A
“They want to divide the Hindus-Muslims… the Sikhs-Christians,” she said.
But an undaunted Ghosh said: “If Ram Navmi does lead to polarisation, let it be. We will do it.”
Adopting a belligerent stand, he said:”Lord Rama carried bow and arrow. So how can his puja be done with empty hands?”
Rubbishing Banerjee’s allegations that the BJP is trying to divide people along religious lines, Union Minister Babul Supriyo asserted that his party is focused on its agenda of development for everyone.
Accusing Banerjee of practising the politics of minority appeasement, the BJP MP from West Bengal’s Asansol said the growing support for his party in the state has compelled her to change tactics, and “she is now trying to please the other communities as well”.
Supriyo further claimed that the initiatives taken by the Trinamool to organise Hindu religious festivals like the ‘Hanuman worship’ is nothing but a new form of vote bank politics that people of the state would “clearly understand”.
In a bid to counter the Sangh Parivar, the Trinamool Congress also organised Hanuman worship in temples of Birbhum district and brought out Ram Navmi processions in districts like Darjeeling, Alipurduar and East Midnapore.
Slamming the Trinamool for organising worship of monkey god to counter the BJP’s aggressive Ram Navmi celebrations, opposition Left Front constituent Forward Bloc said the politicisation of the religious programme has proved the alliance between the two parties was intact.
This is published unedited from the IANS feed.