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Mamata Banerjee’s U-turn: From problems with ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans and skipping Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha, to announcing holiday for Ram Navami for first time in Bengal

The state government’s move appears to be a calculated move to woo voters rather than an acknowledgement of cultural diversity. It underscores the willingness of the TMC chief to exploit religious sentiments for political gains.

On Saturday, 9th March, the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government announced a public holiday on Ram Navami. In the notice shared by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s IT Cell chief Amit Malviya, the notice read, “In continuation to this Department Notification No. 6112-F(P2) dated 09/11/2023, the Governor is pleased to declare 17th April 2024 (Wednesday) as Public Holiday on the occasion of “Ram Navami” under Section 25 of the Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881.” Notably, this is the first time Ram Navami has been declared a public holiday in West Bengal.

In his post on X, Malviya said, “Mamata Banerjee, who would turn blue with rage, every time she heard ‘Jai Shree Ram’, has designated Ram Navami (17th Apr) as a public holiday, in West Bengal. She has done this to redeem her anti-Hindu image. Too late though… More importantly, she needs to ensure no stones are pelted on Ram Navami processions. Will she? Jai Shree Ram.”

Mamata Banerjee has an everlasting problem with ‘Jai Shri Ram’

Mamata Banerjee, over the years, has had a serious problem with ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans. In May 2019, she lost her cool after hearing ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans and asked the police to arrest those chanting them. Mamata was visiting the North 24 Parganas area and while passing from there, some people chanted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans. When she heard the slogans, CM Banerjee climbed out of her car and started shouting at those people. She called them outsiders and threatened to take action against them while deeming them as criminals.

In January 2021, Mamata Banerjee walked off the stage and refused to address a public gathering at Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial for Netaji’s birth anniversary celebrations. Interestingly, she was sharing the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the event, the people gathered chanted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ slogans when she was invited to talk. Mamata could not tolerate it and walked off the stage. She said, “Inviting people and then disrespecting them does not behove the government. This is a government programme, not a political party’s programme”.

In October 2021, Mamata Banerjee went to poll-bound Goa for campaigning where she was greeted with ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans and posters. Reacting to the incident, former Goa CM and TMC leader Luizinho Falerio accused the BJP of chanting slogans and claimed Banerjee reacted only with a “Namaskar”. However, the BJP categorically denied involvement in the incident.

In March 2022, Mamata Banerjee called peaceful Hindus chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram “cowards” in a public meeting near Varanasi when she was addressing the voters while campaigning for Samajwadi Party candidates during the UP Assembly elections. Some Hindus greeted her with ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans, and she took offence to them. During her address at this election rally, Mamata Banerjee said, “I am not scared. I am not a coward. I am a fighter. I faced thrashing & bullets several times in my life. But I never bowed down. Yesterday when they were surrounding me, I got out of my car & faced them to see what they could do. They are cowards.”

In April 2023, the Bengal CM called upon the Muslim community to pray to Allah to finish off rioters in the State. During her speech, the West Bengal Chief Minister slammed the Hindu devotees, who participated in the Ram Navami procession, for supposedly carrying deadly weapons. Mamata Banerjee alleged that Hindus took out Ram Navami processions without permission, and asked why there should be procession for five days. ‘Don’t carry guns in procession, don’t carry bombs in the processions’, she said, alleging that Hindu devotees carried guns and bombs. She was heard saying, “Can’t you step up now and stop these rioters and goons? If women are with me, then I will show my power to the rioters…” Mamata Banerjee then called upon the students to come forward and stop the outbreak of violence in the State. “Ki sonkha loghu bhai bona ra, Allah Tallah er kache doye kore danaga baaj der khotom korte parbe na (Can’t my brothers and sisters from the minority community pray to Allah to finish off these rioters),” she said.

Notably, TMC and Mamata Banerjee skipped Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha which took place on 22nd January 2024 at Bhavya Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

The declaration of a public holiday on Ram Navami in West Bengal by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led state government is nothing more than a clear case of political opportunism. Uncanny for CM Banerjee, who has a notorious past of aversion to the ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogan, this move is a bid to shed her “anti-Hindu” image specifically given the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha Elections.

Mamata Banerjee has a history of reacting aggressively to the ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogan. The state government’s move appears to be a calculated move to woo voters rather than an acknowledgement of cultural diversity. It underscores the willingness of the TMC chief to exploit religious sentiments for political gains.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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