Mamata urges calm as Modi accuses TMC of opposing Ram Navami celebration

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is set to lead the Sangh Parivar in holding nearly 5000 events in villages and cities across West Bengal to celebrate Ram Navami on Wednesday.
nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 18:57 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 18:57 IST

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Kolkata: Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday accused her government in West Bengal of opposing the celebration of Ram Navami, Trinamool Congress supremo and the state’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked her supporters to stay calm even if the religious ceremony was used to provoke and trigger riots.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is set to lead the Sangh Parivar in holding nearly 5000 events in villages and cities across West Bengal to celebrate Ram Navami on Wednesday – just two days before three of the 42 parliamentary constituencies of the state will go to polls in the first phase of voting for the Lok Sabha elections.

The TMC – apprehensive about the possibility of the BJP attempting to use the Ram Navami to whip up Hindutva – urged the Election Commission to curb any attempt to turn religious ceremonies into tools for polarising the electorate ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Modi on Tuesday accused the TMC government in West Bengal of not only opposing the Ram Navami celebration in the state but also of allowing miscreants to pelt stones at rallies taken out on the occasion.

He hailed the Calcutta High Court’s order on Monday granting permission to the VHP to hold a procession on the occasion of Ram Navami. He called the order of the High Court a ‘victory of truth’.

“This is the first Ram Navami after Ram Lalla was enthroned in the grand temple built in Ayodhya. I know the TMC, as always, tried its best to stop the Ram Navami celebrations here, and hatched several conspiracies. But only truth wins,” the prime minister said addressing an election rally of the BJP in Balurghat in north Bengal.

“In Bengal, Ram Navami procession does not get permission,” he alleged in another rally in Raiganj. “One has to move the court for this (to get permission). But the TMC government has given permission to those who pelt stones on the Ram Navami and Durga Puja processions”.

The celebration of Ram Navami gained popularity in West Bengal over the past few years along with the BJP’s growing clout in the state. The Sangh Parivar has been holding events across the state on the occasion with the participation of the local BJP leaders. The celebration, however, often stoked communal tension, with violence breaking out in 2017, 2018 and 2023.

Banerjee has been alleging over the past few days that the BJP might try to trigger riots during the Ram Navami celebrations. She urged all citizens not to get provoked and fall into the trap.

“I want to caution my minority brothers and sisters that if you hear any provocative slogan on April 17, (just remember) it is the day when they try to trigger riots,” Banerjee said in a rally in Jalpaiguri. However, she added, “I want it to be a day of respect for people, a day of unity. Even if they abuse you, stay calm and pray to Allah.”

Her party, however, has plans to take out a few rallies on the occasion of Ram Navami, including one in Howrah – obviously to prove wrong the BJP’s allegation of being opposed to the religious celebration.

“The BJP uses religion for political purposes; we don't believe in such kind of politics. They use Lord Ram and religion for their political benefits,” TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee said, reacting to the prime minister’s allegations against the ruling party of West Bengal.

Published 16 April 2024, 18:57 IST

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