Kolkata: A competition to establish one’s Hindu credentials has broken out in West Bengal between the BJP and TMC. Under the aegis of volunteers associated with the RSS, the State known more for Durga Puja had observed Ram Navami with much fanfare last year. The TMC had tried to counter-balance it with Hanuman Puja in 2017. This year, it’s BJP Ram Navami versus TMC Ram Navami!
In Tamluk, Kanthi and Haldia, Ram Navami committees affiliated to the BJP took out massive processions, including those of motorcycle and bicycle riders. The Haldia-Mecheda stretch saw heavy police deployment along the road through which a long procession, comprising thousands of people, passed.
The scorching sun could not demotivate the crowds as it attracted more and more youth and teens on its way. The younger lot was noticed mostly in school uniforms.
The police, visibly intimidated by the crowd, took no action on the hundreds of motorcycle riders who did not wear helmets. A cop said, “We will consider taking appropriate action against these riders,” with his voice not exuding confidence.
Another procession inspired by the local BJP leadership was noticed in Tamluk. It went through Hospital Mod and Shankar Ada to reach Maniktala, where a police barricade forced it to return to Shankar Ada. From there, it moved to a field on a bank of Rupnarayan River.
The Tamluk procession saw participation not only by district general secretary of the BJP, Pradip Das, his predecessor Malay Singha, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha leader Nilanjan Adhikari, Ram Navami Utsav Committee’s SR Jana and joint secretaries Anup Maity and Harekrishna Bera but also several leaders of the State unit who had come down from Kolkata to add to the strength of the rally.
In the meantime, the TMC chose to celebrate the occasion in its own style in Kanthi, increasingly identified as a saffron bastion. A puja commitee associated with the ruling party of Bengal took out a rath yatra (chariot procession) in this town.
The TMC-motivated procession was led by Member of Parliament Dibyendu Adhikari, mayor Soumyendu Adhikari, the party’s district president Madhurima Mandal, MLAs Banashri Maity and Ranajit Mandal. “We worship Lord Rama with devotion. We take peaceful processions out following the law. Those who want to politicise Lord Rama should take a lesson from our rally,” said Soumyendu Adhikari.
Both the saffron flags of the BJP and flags carrying the TMC’s flowering grass symbol dotted the religious processions across West Bengal on Monday.
The VHP organised its own programme in the Sutahata area of Chaitanyapur. A procession from the venue later reached Rampur. A motorcycle rally followed. The event in Chaitanyapur was led by the BJP’s mandal president Ashok Maity and secretary Pradip Das among others.
Elsewhere, the TMC organised a Kumari Puja in Haldia. Swapan Naskar, the councillor of the local municipality in charge of the power department, was the chief organiser of this event.
Shiv Sena raises Ayodhya issue while observing Ram Navami
The Shiv Sena has entered the fray, too, with its negligible cadre strength in the State. Uddhav Thackeray’s party has added the issue of constructing a Ram temple in Ayodhya to this year’s celebrations in Bengal. A procession for the occasion was noticed in the area under the Haripal police station of Hooghly district yesterday.
The Shiv Sena claims at least 5,000 people joined their Ram Navami procession. The general secretary of the party, Pradip Ghosh, accompanied by other leaders of the organisation like Ujjwal Ghosh and Sujoy Chakraborty, was part of the rally.
“From the next year onwards, the Shiv Sena will observe Ram Navami in every district of the State. Our aim is to unite all sections of Hindu society and turn India into a Hindu state,” said Pradip Ghosh.
The general secretary of the Shiv Sena further informed journalists that the party plans to build a temple each dedicated to Lord Rama, Bharat Mata and Lord Shiva on a 50 bigha plot in Haripal [in Bengal, since the British era, a bigha is standardised as 1,600 sq yards; the quantum denoted by this ancient measurement unit is not uniform across the regions of India].