Banerjee on Monday lashed out at the BJP, accusing it of insulting Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose by raising ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans at an event to mark the icon’s 125th birth anniversary. Banerjee said she had to face taunts and insult in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Victoria Memorial during the main ‘Parakram Diwas’ celebration on Saturday.
Branding the BJP as a group of “outsiders” and “Bharat Jalao Party”, she said it has been continuously insulting the icons of Bengal, Netaji being the “latest addition to the list”. “Would you invite anyone to your house and then insult the person? Is this the culture of Bengal or our country? I would have had no problem if slogans hailing Netaji were raised. I would have saluted them. “But they didn’t do that. To taunt me, they shouted slogans which had no relation to the programme. I was insulted in front of the prime minister of the country. This is their (BJP) culture,” the Trinamool Congress boss told a rally here. She also termed those who raised the slogans as “religious fanatics”, and said they have no idea about the culture of Bengal. Banerjee had on Saturday refused to speak at an official event attended by Modi to observe Subhas Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary, after ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chants greeted her.
Wondering why Mamata Banerjee gets angry on hearing the “Jai Shri Ram” slogan, BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari said that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had respect for Lord Ram. Quoting from a letter written by Netaji to his mother, Adhikari said that Bose had praised the Ramayana and Lord Ram. Adhikari, who switched sides from the TMC to the BJP last month, said that the letter was published in a book which is a collection of letters written by Netaji to his mother. He questioned why Banerjee “gets angry on hearing Jai Shri Ram”. The prime minister, who participated in the birth anniversary celebration of Netaji in Kolkata on Saturday, has shown the highest regards to the great freedom fighter, he said. Adhikari, once a trusted aide of Banerjee, claimed that Modi has never differentiated among religions in his development agenda.
Reacting to Banerjee’s accusations of disrespecting icons, BJP vice-president Jaiprakash Majumdar said it was the CM who insulted Netaji. “The allegations are baseless. It is she who insulted Netaji and tried to politicise the event. We don’t need lessons from her,” he said.
No one is being forced to raise ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans and there is nothing to feel bad about its chanting as it is a greeting, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Monday. Speaking to a select group of journalists here, Adityanath said, “If someone says Jai Shri Ram there is nothing to feel bad about it as it is a greeting”‘. “If someone says ‘namaskar’ or ‘Jai Shri Ram’ it shows his etiquette,” he said. Responding to questions on Banerjee refusing to speak after the chants, Adityanath said, “We are not forcing anyone to speak it. But if someone says Jai Shri Ram there is nothing to feel bad about it.” The BJP claimed that Banerjee’s reaction reflected her mindset of appeasement politics.
The VHP leadership also came down heavily on Banerjee, saying it reflects her “anti-Hindu” mindset and efforts to appease a particular community. BJP leader and grandnephew of Netaji, Chandra Kumar Bose, had said there was nothing wrong with the slogan and Netaji’s birth anniversary should not be mixed with politics. The Congress and the Left Front had backed Banerjee and slammed the BJP for the incident. With elections due in the state in March-April, the tussle between the BJP and Banerjee’s TMC has intensified.
West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose stood “too tall among us” and there should not be any attempt to “belittle the maker”. In a series of tweets on the microblogging site, Dhankhar cautioned against any attempt of creating din on the legacy of the great patriot. “There cannot be any room for creating noise on legacy #NetajiSubhasChandraBose. Such attempts will only belittle the maker and be irrelevant. “Netaji all through thrived for unity of country. He stands too tall amongst us..lets dump any ulterior thinking on this great occasion,” the governor tweeted. Though Dhankhar did not refer to any particular incident, there was an unexpected turn of events during the 125th birthday celebrations of Netaji in Victoria Memorial here where Banerjee was greeted with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chants when she was about to deliver her speech in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the governor on Saturday.
Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Diamond Harbour TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, while addressing a rally in Kultali assembly constituency on Sunday said ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans were deliberately raised to prevent Mamata Banerjee from delivering her speech. “We are proud that Mamata Banerjee made it clear that if Netaji is insulted by such slogans during a government function, we will rise in protest. Bengal will rise in protest,” the TMC MP said. “You can chant Jai Shri Ram thousand times, but at temples, at religious functions, at your place but not in this fashion at a government programme to commemorate an icon like Netaji,” he said. By not allowing her to make her speech in such a programme, they also insulted the people who elected her to the assembly. This reminded people of the vandalism of the Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar bust in 2019, he said.
The TMC has expressed regret over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” on the “reprehensible treatment” meted out to chief minister Mamata Banerjee by a section of audience, who raised ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans ahead of her speech on Netajis birth anniversary.
State minister Bratya Basu, during a press meet in Kolkata, said the incident 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… This shows that the BJP has no respect for Netaji and has no idea what he stood for,” he claimed. The TMC MLA claimed that “a dark fascist force” was trying to grab power in West Bengal, and alleged that freedom of expression would be under stake, if it gets to seize control. “Please don’t allow this force to take control of Bengal. 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,” Basu said, after popular Bengali actress Kaushani Mukhopadhay and the chairperson of Eastern India Motion Pictures Association, Piya Sengupta, joined the ruling camp at the meet. “An ugly force is now out to throttle the voice of all artistes in the country. Director Anurag Kashyap and actor Naseeruddin Shah have already got a taste of it,” he underlined.
Lauding Banerjee, TMC MP Mahua Moitra said on Twitter, “Never have I been prouder to be part of Mamatadi’s team. In an ocean of monkeys she stands out as the lone lioness.”
BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Bairia, Surendra Singh, said West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee hails from a “demoness culture” and that her DNA is “defected”. “There is a defect in the DNA of Mamata Banerjee, and she hails from the demoness culture (Mamata Banerjee ke DNA mein dosh hai, woh raakshashi sanskriti ki hai). No demon can love Lord Ram. Mamata Banerjee is a dishonest and evil (shaitan) person. Her hatred for Lord Ram is natural,” he told reporters. Singh added that the violence and murder unleashed allegedly by members of Banerjee’s party TMC in West Bengal provide proof of their “evil” act. The BJP claimed that Banerjee’s reaction reflected her mindset of appeasement politics, while the ruling Trinamool Congress said no one can teach lumpens to be dignified.
The VHP leadership came down heavily on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for not delivering her speech at the main ‘Parakram Diwas’ celebration here after ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans greeted her, 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. Lord Ram is soul of the country. Why does she get angry with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans? We fail to understand,” international joint general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Surendra Jain said.
BJP leader and grandnephew of Netaji, Chandra Kumar Bose, said there was nothing wrong with the slogan and Netaji’s birth anniversary should not be mixed with politics. The Congress and the Left Front had backed Banerjee and slammed the BJP for the incident.
Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya claimed that Mamata Banerjee refused to deliver her speech on Netaji’s birth anniversary, after being greeted with ‘Jai Sri Ram’ chants, as she wanted to appease a section of people. Vijayvargiya, the saffron party’s national general secretary, alleged that the chief minister has only been sensitive to the needs and the interests of 30 per cent of the state’s over nine crore people. “Jai Sri Ram is used to greet people. It was chanted when Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived, and also when he was leaving the Netaji Research Bureau. Why did Mamata didi feel insulted? Why did she feel upset on hearing ‘Jai Sri Ram’ or ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ chants?” he told reporters at Jalpaiguri, where he is scheduled to attend a party programme. Asserting that Banerjee’s move was aimed at “appeasing 30 per cent of the voters in the state”, Vijayvargiya, who is also the BJP’s Bengal minder, said “for the remaining 70 per cent, it has always been a tale of neglect.” Minorities, especially Muslims, constitute 30 per cent of the state’s population. “People of Bengal will give a befitting reply to her in the next elections,” the BJP leader added.