VHP, BJP clash over armed Ram Navami rallies

Police personnel patrol after clashes and incidents of arson over Ram Navami procession at Raniganj in Burdwan district in March 2018. PTI

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, intense disagreement has surfaced between the VHP and BJP over holding armed Ram Navami rallies in West Bengal.

While the VHP has decided against it, the state BJP leadership has made it clear that they will hold armed rallies. Over the last couple of years, West Bengal has witnessed severe violence during Ram Navami and, last year, at least three people died in clashes over the festival.

“We have urged our workers not to hold armed rallies during Ram Navami as it creates unnecessary controversy. Carrying arms during such rallies is not always an integral part of the tradition,” VHP’s organisational secretary (East) Sachindranath Sinha told DH

He also said that not all Ram Navami rallies were organised by the BJP and its party workers took part only in such rallies. 

“VHP is not a political organisation. Our decision has nothing to do with the Lok Sabha elections,” said Sinha.

VHP sources revealed that their state leadership had urged BJP candidates from Bengal not to take part in Ram Navami rallies. But BJP sources said its state leadership was not giving much importance to the VHP’s decision. 

“Armed Ram Navami rallies will be held in places where it is the tradition and our party workers will participate in the rallies,” said state BJP president Dilip Ghosh. 

The disagreement between BJP and VHP has prompted the TMC to claim that the latter has aped its decision of holding such rallies without arms. 

“TMC believes in non-violence and hence we do not carry arms during Ram Navami rallies. VHP has taken a cue from us,” said senior TMC leader and minister Sadhan Pandey.

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VHP, BJP clash over armed Ram Navami rallies

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