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Trinamool Congress, BJP Battle it Out Over Ram Navami Celebrations in Bengal

While the West Bengal police is keeping a vigil to avoid any clash during Ram Navami procession on Sunday, a BJP leader justified carrying of arms as devotees’ “wish and bhakti towards Lord Ram”.

Sujit Nath | News18

Updated:March 25, 2018, 7:13 PM IST
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Kolkata: As festive fervour gripped the denizens of Kolkata, the BJP and TMC did not leave any stone unturned to celebrate Ram Navami on Sunday.

For the first time, the Trinamool Congress party in the state has organised rallies on Ram Navami in an effort to prove that Hindu festivals are not monopoly of the BJP. The move seems to have come after a saffron party procession on the occasion last year turned out to be a success in West Bengal.

Claiming that Ram Navami has become a social festival in Bengal, BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha said the magnitude of the celebration marks the victory of their Hindutva agenda.

“Mamata Banerjee’s party celebrating Ram Navami shows the change is inevitable in Bengal. It seems that Banerjee has bowed down before Hindutva,” Vishva Hindu Parishad joint general secretary Surendra Jain told News18 over phone.

As many as six major Ram Navami rallies are being taken out in the city by the Sangh affiliate, with the rally from north Kolkata's Sovabazar expected to draw the biggest crowds. BJP leader Mukul Roy, who defected from the TMC last year, was also seen leading a rally in north 24 Parganas district's New Town area.

"There would be armed rally in Kharagpur. I will carry weapons myself. This has been an old tradition here to conduct armed rallies. It would continue. It seems we are approaching towards Ram Rajya. Those who did not want it, are also wanting it now. I am sure Ram Mandir would also be built in Ayodhya," state BJP president Dilip Ghosh was quoted as saying by news agency IANS.

A state BJP leader has justified carrying of arms as devotees’ “wish and bhakti towards Lord Ram”, even as the West Bengal police is keeping a vigil to avoid any clash on Sunday.

“We are not asking anyone to carry arms during the Ram Navami procession. If someone is carrying arms, then it is their wish and bhakti towards Lord Ram. We can’t help it,” state BJP secretary Sayantan Basu said.

Further, the saffron party leader alleged that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had allowed members of Muslim community to carry arms during Muharram but was “harassing” BJP workers during Ram Navami procession.

“It is unfortunate to see government’s kindness during Muharram where they allow Muslims to carry arms. But every year they try to create issues during Ram Navami. Why such biases? The rallies in some parts of Bengal have already started and I would like to request the state administration not to harass our workers,” Basu said.

Agreeing with fellow leaders, BJP leader Mukul Roy said, "Arms are nothing but symbols. No one carries arms in the rally to indulge in fights. I think the Trinamool government is trying to create an unnecessary controversy over the armed rallies on Ram Navami."

Echoing Basu’s sentiments, VHP joint general secretary said, “Bengal government is harassing our supporters and preventing them from organising Ram Navami procession. In Burdwan, TMC goons set our pandals on fire and threatened our supporters. But I would like to tell them that no one can force us from organising the rally. I would like to question the Bengal government that do Muslims take permission before Muharram procession?”

However, the national secretary of the saffron party clarified that though the BJP was not organising any rallies, all its senior state leaders are participating in the processions organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Jagran Manch.

The VHP leader, Surendra Jain, also compared Banerjee to mythical demon Maricha, who was an ally of Ravana.

“Mamata is acting like Maricha of Ramayana and befooling the Hindu samaj. But she is exposed now. People in Bengal understood that her politics of appeasement will not help her in the long run and therefore she has decided to celebrate Ram Navami,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee extended greetings on social media. State Minister of Biotechnology and Statistics Ashish Banerjee took out a colourful procession with dancers dressed as Ram and Sita in Birbhum district's Rampurhat.

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| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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