Taking forward her soft Hindutva approach, Mamata Banerjee has overturned initial orders banning the display of arms, allowing ‘restricted display’ of arms at Ram Navami rallies.
Earlier she had asked the police to take stern action against participants who carry arms in the rally. She had addressed a meeting of police officers in East Bardhaman and said, ‘Howsoever small an incident may be, do not neglect it. Do ensure that no communal incident takes place. If any incident is reported, take stern action immediately.’ However, yesterday she retracted her earlier statement and said ‘only organisations that carry out traditional processions with arms for the last 10-12 years will be allowed.’ She clarified, ‘I know that there are only a couple of organisations in Howrah and Asansol which traditionally hold Ram Navami processions with arms. Those who have been celebrating Ram Navami for more than a decade will be given special permission to hold processions with arms.’
Earlier also she had tried to cultivate a ‘pro-Hindu’ image by visiting Gangasagar, at the Kapil Muni ashram, in presence of chief priest Gyandasji ahead of Makar Sankranti.
After visiting, Mamata also stated that she would come back to the place again.
This isn’t the only ‘pro-Hindu’ stand which she or her party has indulged in. Reports had emerged claiming that TMC would organise a massive “Brahmin Sammelan” in the state’s Birbhum district on 8th January 2018. This was scheduled to be the first “Brahmin Sammelan” in the state and about 15,000 Brahmins were expected to attend.
Here Brahmins would be given a copy of Bhagwat Gita, a religious shawl and photos of Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Saradha Maa. The prime organiser of this event is Anubrata Mondal, TMC’s Birbhum district president.
Such ‘majority appeasement’ of Mamata, it seems, comes a few days after the results of Sabang by-poll, an assembly constituency in Paschim Medinipur district, were announced. Even though the TMC won the election by a comfortable margin of 49,167 votes, a close analysis brought forth a “tell a tale of a major shift in voting pattern”.
Here it was noted that the TMC witnessed a low upswing in the vote, and BJP made massive inroads by winning 18.4% of votes compared to a paltry 2.6% a year later.
It remains to be seen whether a growing threat of the BJP or a realisation of possible Hindu disenchantment, is driving Mamata and the TMC to undertake such measures. And whether she and her party would be successful in completing this ‘image makeover’, and get the desired results in the future polls.