In poll-bound West Bengal, the state unit of BJP has shared a clip of Mamata in which she is reciting ― or trying or pretending to recite ― an ‘Islamic prayer’. BJP has asked if Mamata could recite a prayer during a speech, then why she has a problem with chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram.’
While Mamata Banerjee bending over backward to appease Muslims is not a new development, before the BJP, ordinary citizens alone ― both in Bengal and other states ― questioned such gestures. The imagery of the chief minister in namaz-like posture is but several years old.
Meanwhile, Banerjee’s refusal to speak at the Victoria Memorial event organised to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose yesterday after hearing “Jai Sri Ram” chants from the crowd, a major controversy has broken out. While the Indian National Congress (INC) has supported Banerjee and said that BJP had no right to insult the West Bengal chief minister, BJP has claimed that Mamata insulted Netaji and asked why she was irked by “Jai Sri Ram”.
The BJP and TMC are currently embroiled in a battle to claim freedom fighter Netaji’s legacy. The Narendra Modi government has decided to observe Netaji’s birth anniversary on 23 January every year as Parakram Diwas. It has already renamed Howrah-Kalka Mail as “Netaji Express”, has arranged a program at Victoria Memorial and National Library Programme in Kolkata, released a memorial postal stamp.
The union government announced its move ahead of Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary to pay tribute to the freedom fighter to inspire the youth of the nation to ‘act with fortitude in the face of adversity’. These moves come ahead of Bengal polls in April-May.
Meanwhile, the Mamata Banerjee government has announced that a committee is formed for year-long celebrations dedicated to Netaji – similar to the Centre. It has organised a ‘Padyatra’ for Netaji, build an INA Monument at Rajarhat and proposed to form a National Cadet Corps (NCC) like organisation in state-run schools and colleges and name it ‘Jai Hind Bahini’. Opposing the Centre’s ‘Parakram Diwas’ announcement, Mamata said, “We have observed ‘Deshnayak Divas’ today. Rabindranath Tagore called Netaji ‘Deshnayak’. What is this ‘Parakram’?,” adding “You are building a new parliament and buying new planes, why no memorial for Netaji?”