Mamata attacks BJP’s ‘parivartan yatra’ in Bengal, says the party is being disrespectful to Hindu religion

Published : February 10, 2021 20:52 IST

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addressing a public meeting in Malda district on February 10. Photo: PTI

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee trained her guns on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ‘parivartan yatra’ in its ‘ratha’ (chariot), claiming that BJP leaders were pretending to be gods themselves and were being disrespectful to the Hindu religion. Addressing a workers’ convention in Malda on February 10, Mamata said, “Ravana also abducted Sita in a chariot. Are you driving that chariot as well?” As the West Bengal Assembly election draws near, the BJP has pinned its hopes on the ‘parivartan (change) yatra’ giving a fillip to its campaign.

With the BJP poised to give a strong challenge to the ruling Trinamool Congress in the election, Mamata’s attack was clearly aimed at neutralising whatever gains the saffron party hopes to make with its yatra. “The Babus [BJP] are now doing Ratha Yatra. We all go to Puri. We have ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) ratha yatra here…. I pull the ISKCON ratha every time. Whenever I go to Puri, I pray to Lord Jagannath. The daitapatis (bodyguards of Jagannath) of Puri also come to my house and offer prayers…. But the BJP leaders are now proclaiming themselves to be Jagannath, Balaram, Subhadra, Sri Krishna, Arjun. Will you (BJP) please answer this: Ravana also abducted Sita in a chariot. Are you driving that chariot as well?”

She alleged that the BJP leaders’ ‘ratha’ (a bus) was actually a makeshift hotel inside which they were feasting and moving around. “There is no limit to their money. There was a time when they could not even afford a bidi. But now there is no end to the crores they have. The money is floating about all over the world; where it is going nobody knows,” said Mamata. She emphasised that she respects the tradition of the rath yatra, but has no respect for the BJP. “The way you [the BJP] are insulting the Hindu religion, people will not forgive you,” said Mamata.

She said that to bring in the BJP means to bring in communal riots. Imploring the people of Malda, traditionally a Congress bastion, not to vote for the Congress, the Left and the BJP, she said, “If you cast your votes for the Congress and the Left instead of the BJP, it will be very bad, as there is an understanding between the Congress, the Left and the BJP. But there is no understanding with the Trinamool Congress. Remember, Trinamool Congress would rather die than surrender to the BJP.”

The parivartan yatra on the BJP ratha was kickstarted by party president J.P. Nadda from Nadia district on February 6, and several such ‘rathas’ have started rolling in different parts of the State. The objective of the yatra, as proclaimed by the BJP, is to create awareness among the masses of Trinamool’s misrule and appeal to them to bring about a change (parivartan). Addressing a party programme (Chai pe charcha) in Pashchim Medinipur on February 10, Nadda said, “For development to take place, the BJP is the only way…. Development will only take place when Mamata ji leaves and the lotus blooms in the State.” Lashing out against the Trinamool government, he said, “Those who win in the name of Maa Maati Maanush [Mother, Land and People – Trinamool’s slogan], indulge in autocratic behavior, corruption and extortion.”

The same day Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar came down heavily on the government, alleging that an atmosphere of “fear” pervades the State. “Freedom means freedom from fear; democracy means freedom from fear; Constitutional working means freedom from fear; rule of law means freedom from fear. We are at the moment not free from fear…. People are so much in fear they can’t even talk about the fear,” said Dhankhar.

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