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After RSS and Sangh Parivar paint Bengal saffron, Mamata accuses BJP of trying to appropriate Ram Navami

New Delhi: The RSS claimed to have taken out over 200 Ram Navami processions all over West Bengal, using the festival ‘to unite the Hindus’ against what they called the “growing Jehadi activities” in the state.

The unprecedented scale of Ram Navami celebrations this year in the state appears to have rattled even Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who accused the RSS-BJP combine of trying to ‘appropriate’ the festival and asked them not to mix religion with politics.

Virtually seeking to paint the state saffron, right wing activists marched through the streets of various cities across the state, waving saffron flags, carrying posters pledging to build Sri Ram temple at Ayodhya and shouting, ‘Jai Sri Ram.’ At some places like Birbhum and Purulia, women and men were seen brandishing even swords and knives in colourful rallies and renting the air with slogans of ‘Jai Siya Ram.’ Amid the unprecedented Ram Navami celebrations, held under the banner of Rama Navami Udjapan Samity across the state, police said there were no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere.

In Kolkata and its adjoining areas alone, more than 22 rallies were taken out.

In the state, a total 200 rallies and processions with participants varying from 2,000 to 20,000 were held, Bidyut Mukherjee, RSS organizational secretary for West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands told PTI.

“The response of the common people was very good. We have been able to unite the Hindus to a large extent through these rallies,” he said.

The RSS-backed Ram Navami rallies were held on such a scale close on the heels of RSS’ Coimbatore resolution last month in which it had expressed concern over the “growing Jehadi activities and declining Hindu population in West Bengal.”

“If you have to unite a community then religious festivals are the best way to send out a message for uniting the society under one umbrella,” said a VHP functionary.

Expressing support to the RSS programme, WB BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, “We fully support such programmes to celebrate Ram Navami. It will help people unite against the anti-national forces and vote-bank politics. If a rally can be taken out on Nabi Diwas, why can’t one be taken out on Ram Navami? What’s the harm in it?”

Facing heat from the right-wing parties, ruling TMC had asked its leaders to organize Ram Navami rallies and special prayers for Lord Hanuman in their areas.

With the BJP-RSS celebrating Ram Navami in a big way in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of trying to ‘appropriate’ the festival and asked it not to mix religion with politics.

“The BJP should not describe Ram Navami as its own. The BJP has nothing to do with it. It should stop using religion (for politics). (Duirng the assembly election) In UP they sought ‘Sabka Sath,’ but in Bengal they are playing divisive politics,” she said mounting an attack on the party.

“We work for the people of all castes, creed and religion,” she said.

Banerjee also alleged that the BJP was using the ‘Om’ symbol in their political programmes.

“Who has given you (BJP) the right to use the Om symbol? Is it your party symbol? Religious leaders chant it. We all chant Om Namah Shivaya,” she said at a public meeting here.

“The BJP is mixing politics with religion. They are conspiring to divide the nation … Chant Om sitting at home.

Do not use it in your party programmes,” she thundered.

If BJP wants to use ‘Om’ in their programmes, it should go to the Election Commission and have its party symbol changed, she said alleging that the BJP and CPI-M were hand-in-glove.

She took on the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for reducing interest rates in small savings schemes and said it was “taking away everything” from common men.

“You (BJP) have hiked the price of cooking gas and kerosene. Even demonetisation has affected people in such a manner that thousands have lost their jobs,” she said.

Referring to the development projects undertaken by the state government, she said “We are developing tourism infrastructure in Bankura including in Mukutmanipur and for the terracotta temples of Bishnupur.”

“We have set up a university in Bankura. A super multi- speciality hospital is coming up at Barjora while investments worth Rs 11,000 crore were made in the district,” Banerjee said adding the government will execute a new water supply project for eight more blocks of Bankura by August.

—PTI