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Mamata uses Buddha Purnima to project an inclusive image, slam BJP

Sulagna Sengupta | Updated on: 11 May 2017, 20:47 IST
(PTI photo)

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee used the occasion of Buddha Purnima for a dual purpose: to project herself as an inclusive leader, and continue her tirade against the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Addressing a rally at the Buddha Jayanti Utsav, held at Rani Rashmoni Road in Kolkata on Thursday, Banerjee reiterated Buddha's eight-fold philosophy, and said: “It is crucial that we understand the essence behind the path of Buddha.”

Banerjee's attack

Making a direct reference to the Sangh Parivar without naming it, Banerjee said: “Religion is not determined by who eats what, wears what, sees what or participates in what events, or by skin colour.”

Last month, there was a major controversy when Sangh outfits' Ram Navami celebrations featured children carrying sharp-edged weapons. Referring to this, Banerjee said: “Following one’s religion does not imply carrying swords to scare people. Religion implies keeping God in one’s heart and not throwing him to the ground. Following a religion does not imply disrespecting another religion.”

In what seemed an oblique reference to the Narendra Modi-led Central government, Banerjee said: “We do not believe in government by the dangabaaj, for the dangabaaj, of the dangabaaj.”

While the West Bengal government has already registered cases against state BJP president Dilip Ghosh in connection with the public display of weapons at a Ram Navami procession in Kharagpur, a case has been also filed against BJP leader Locket Chatterjee on Thursday.

Banerjee also claimed that BJP was trying to create a tough situation in Bengal, saying: “We won't back down because you (BJP) are trying to create a tough situation in Bengal. The other states may keep quiet, but Bengal will not keep quiet. In the future, it is Bengal which will show the way. The essence of India is tolerance and rebirth, and those who are indulging in politics of intolerance and of violence are not of our religion.”

Claiming that the BJP was trying to create fake accounts on social media and in a bid to manufacture a religious divide, Banerjee said: “They have also called me a 'hijra'. I may be a very bad person, but I still have the right to lead a respectable life. People are questioning my personal details, my gender, my religion from the anonymity of fake accounts,” Banerjee said.

BJP's claims

Meanwhile, BJP leaders say they are planning to launch a series of protest against the TMC government, and on 25 May, they will gherao the Lalbazaar police headquarters in Kolkata in protest against the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

Ghosh, the state BJP president, said: “We will continue our protest against Mamata's false claims and appeasement politics of TMC. On 25 May, we are planning to gherao Lalbazaar in protest against the state’s deteriorating law and order situation. In most of the districts, our workers are being beaten up unnecessarily, and the police is not allowing us to file cases against the accused.”

Analyst's view

Political analysts said Banerjee's words were a clear attempt to use a religious festival to ensure that peace and harmony prevailed in Bengali society, despite the BJP's efforts to create religious polarisation in the state.

Imankalyan Lahiri, political analyst, said: “BJP may try to create a religious divide in the state, but Banerjee is desperately trying to protect the society by mirroring BJP's vindictive attitude, in an attempt to make people understand that BJP cannot gain votes in the state simply by creating religious divide. Bengal's culture is strong enough to handle such intolerance.”

First published: 11 May 2017, 20:31 IST