West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee this evening turned down her turn to speak at an event to commemorate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose‘s birth anniversary where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival was greeted by the crowd with the slogan “Jai Sri Ram”. Banerjee was approaching the dais when the slogan was heard at the Victoria Memorial event to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of the towering freedom fighter.
Mamata Banerjee did but reach the dais where she stayed for about a minute to say, “I think a government programme should have some dignity. This is a government’s program and not a political party’s program. I’m thankful to the prime minister and the Ministry of Culture for hosting this event here but it does not behove you to insult someone after inviting them.”
This happened moments before Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his speech on the occasion of what his government named as the ‘Parakarm Divas’. Earlier in the day, Mamata Banerjee after a rally of the TMC had said she preferred calling the day “Deshnayak Divas” and that it was a more suitable name.
Mamata Banerjee said that the union government should have asked her or her colleagues in the TMC what a more appropriate name for 23 January, the day Netaji was born in 1897, would be.
That the Hindu invocation “Jai Sri Ram” irritates the West Bengal chief minister is now a known fact, which has reduced her to a butt of jokes. Her detractors, including members of the BJP, losing no opportunity to tease her with the slogan whenever and wherever they find her.
It had begun in May 2019 when as many as seven people were detained for chanting “Jai Sri Ram” slogans as Mamata Banerjee’s motorcade passed through the then troubled Bhatpara area of District North 24 Parganas. The TMC honcho was on her way to Naihati to participate in a sit-in against alleged attacks on her party workers after the Lok Sabha election results when the incident took place on 30 May that year.
Two days later, the BJP decided to send Mamata Banerjee 10 lakh post cards with “Jai Shri Ram” written on them.
Three days thereafter was Eid ul Fitr, when the chief minister referred to her “insult” on 30 May to say this was a state for all. Before this, Mamata’s nephew and heir apparent Abhishek Banerjee had said that the BJP had switched from ‘Jai Sri Ram’ to ‘Jai Ma Kali’ because Lord Rama’s TRP rating must have gone down.