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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Modi condemns attack on RKM ashram, accuses TMC of vote bank politics; Mamata clarifies stance

Addressing an election rally in West Bengal's Jhargram, Modi condemned the vandalism at Ramakrishna Mission ashram in Jalpaiguri and accused the TMC regime of instigating violence against monks to appease their vote bank.
nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 20 May 2024, 17:04 IST
Last Updated : 20 May 2024, 17:04 IST

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Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday continued to accuse Trinamool Congress and its supremo Mamata Banerjee of hurting the religious sentiment of the Hindus of West Bengal, even as she clarified that she had only criticised some individual monks of Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Sangha for campaigning against her party but had always been respectful to both the institutions.

Banerjee’s bête noire Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee, however, lent credence to her allegation against Kartik Maharaj, one of the functionaries of the Bharat Sevashram Sangh in the state.

“He is not a monk,” Chowdhury said even as the TMC supremo reiterated her allegation that Kartik Maharaj had vowed to stop the deployment of her party’s agents in polling booths in the Murshidabad and Baharampur Lok Sabha constituencies of the state. Kartik Maharaj, however, dismissed the allegation and sent a legal notice to the TMC supremo, demanding an apology from her.

“It is shameful that the TMC has taken up the onus of hurting the religious faith of Hindus in Bengal. The chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) threatens the Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Ashram monks,” Modi said at an election rally of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Jhargram Lok Sabha constituency of the state. He also alleged that an ‘ashram’ of the Ramakrishna Mission in Jalpaiguri had come under attack. “The people of Bengal will not tolerate this,” said the prime minister.

The Ramakrishna Mission alleged that a local land mafia had orchestrated the attack on its ‘ashram’ in Jalpaiguri due to a property dispute. A complaint was lodged at the local police station.

Banerjee, however, sought to counter the BJP’s bid to take advantage of her comment. She lauded the humanitarian works the Ramakrishna Mission and the Bharat Sevashram Sangha carry out for the society.

“I am not against the Ramakrishna Mission, why should I be against an institution or insult it?" Banerjee said. "I have spoken about one or two persons.”

“If he wants to campaign for the BJP, he can, but should do it wearing its badge,” she said, reiterating her allegation about Kartik Maharaj.

Banerjee had on Saturday named Kartik Maharaj of the Bharat Sevashram Sangha in the Baharampur Lok Sabha constituency of the state. She had said that he had vowed not to allow any TMC agent in any polling booth.

She had also said that she would not regard such a person as a monk as he had got himself directly involved with politics.

“I respect the Bharat Sevashram Sangha a lot. It has been on my list of respected institutions for a long time,” the TMC supremo had said.

She had also alleged that some monks of Ramakrishna Mission had received words from New Delhi to ask devotees to vote for the BJP.

She had specifically referred to a Ramakrishna Mission unit in Asansol and then referred to a WhatsApp group linked to it. “I know the (monks of) Ramakrishna Mission do not vote. Then why should they ask for votes?”

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Published 20 May 2024, 17:04 IST

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