The Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday continued to attack each other after “Jai Shri Ram” slogans were shouted at an event at Victoria Memorial Hall, The Indian Express reported.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday refused to speak at the event to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Subhash Chandra Bose in Kolkata in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying she felt insulted by the slogans.
TMC leaders alleged that BJP supporters shouted the slogan to heckle and humiliate Banerjee, while the saffron party accused the chief minister of trying to appease the minority population by declining to speak at the event.
TMC MP and Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee claimed it was a deliberate attempt by the BJP to not let her address the people. He added that the chief minister was humiliated at the event. “I appeal to people to give a befitting reply to people who insult Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his birth anniversary,” he said at a public meeting in South 24 Parganas district.
Senior TMC leader and state minister Firhad Hakim criticised the BJP for turning a government programme into a “joke”. “Will it look good if Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes to an event and we engage in sloganeering?” he asked. “This is an insult to Lord Ram as well…”
TMC workers staged demonstrations in several districts of West Bengal on Sunday to protest Banerjee’s heckling, according to PTI. The party’s leadership also held a press conference at their headquarters, where state minister Bratya Basu said the incident at Victoria Memorial reflects the “misogynistic mindset” of certain people.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was present at the programme, did not utter a single word condemning the behaviour of a section of audience,” Basu said. “This shows that the BJP has no respect for Netaji and has no idea what he stood for.”
He also claimed that “a dark fascist force” was trying to come to power in West Bengal. “Please don’t allow this force to take control of Bengal,” he added. “It will do away with our freedom of expression. People of different ideologies are free to air their views in Bengal. That would all come to end.”
TMC MP Mahua Moitra also hit out at the slogan shouters. “Never have I been prouder to be part of Mamatadi’s team,” she tweeted. “...She stands out as the lone lioness.”
However, BJP National General Secretary Kaliash Vijayvargiya said that by not speaking at the event, Banerjee had insulted Subhas Chandra Bose. “Jai Shri Ram slogan is raised to welcome guests,” he said. “When the prime minister arrived [at the event], the slogan was raised. The same was done when Mamata Banerjee arrived. What is there in this slogan that Mamata Banerjee felt insulted? She has done it keeping a political agenda in mind.”
The BJP leader claimed Banerjee did not speak to appease the “30%”, an apparent reference to the Muslim population.
Several other saffron party leaders also criticised the West Bengal chief minister, with a Uttar Pradesh MLA saying that she hails from a “demoness culture” and that her DNA is “defected”, PTI reported. “There is defect in the DNA of Mamata Banerjee, and she hails from the demoness culture,” Surendra Singh told reporters. “No demon can love Lord Ram. Mamata Banerjee is a dishonest and evil person. Her hatred for Lord Ram is natural.”
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, meanwhile, said that there was nothing to feel bad about “Jai Shri Ram” chants. He also claimed it was meant as a greeting to the leaders. “We are not forcing anyone to speak it,” he added.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad also took on Banerjee, saying it reflects her “anti-Hindu” mindset and efforts to appease a particular community. “What Mamata Banerjee did reflects her anti-Hindu mindset and her efforts towards appeasement politics,” International Joint General Secretary Surendra Jain told PTI. “Lord Ram is soul of the country. Why does she get angry with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans? We fail to understand.”
Pro-tem Speaker of Madhya Pradesh Assembly, Rameshwar Sharma, gifted a copy of the Ramayana to Banerjee, India Today reported. He urged her to read it carefully and further claimed that she was opposed to Ram “under pressure from Bangladesh” and “due to her vote bank”.