RSS and VHP have seized the occasion of Ram Navami to expand its presence in Bengal, which has emerged as a focus state for BJP post the UP blitzkrieg, by organising a clutch of programmes such as religious gatherings, processions, chanting of the Gita in neighbourhoods and raising of the saffron flag atop houses. The Sangh parivar is highlighting the new drive in the state as a push to its agenda of rebuilding the Ram Temple in Ayodhya that has gathered steam after the UP landslide.
Incidentally, Ram Navami that is celebrated with fanfare in states such as UP and Bihar have never been organised in such a scale in Bengal by any outfit.
“We will consolidate the Hindu community through an array of programmes. To that end, we are organising Ram Navami in a big way in every district so that we can teach the urgent need to for the Hindus to come together in Bengal,” said Jishnu Basu, RSS general secretary, (south Bengal).
Though the vote share of the saffron camp has gone up in Bengal since 2014 Lok Sabha polls -- from 6% in 2009 to 16.8% in 2014 -- its remains a marginal player with two Lok Sabha MPs and three MLAs.
“We are organising a statewide programme that will be a wake up call for the people of Bengal for the Ram Janmabhoomi moveement in the state. It will be not only a celebration of Lord Rama but also a show of might of Hindus in Bengal,” remarked Sourish Mukherjee, VHP spokesperson.
While RSS has planned gatherings and ‘Gita Path (recitations from the Gita)’, VHP has planned colorful processions in the districts and special pujas on and after April 5, the birth date of Lord Rama.
VHP has also planned a ‘Hindu dharma sabha’ in Kolkata on April 11. Its national leaders and religious figures have been invited to the programme at Esplanade in the heart of the business district of Kolkata.
Incidentally, the saffron camp’s plan to celebrate Ram Navami has already triggered a reaction from chief minister Mamata Banerjee who pointed out that she doesn’t have any objection to anybody celebrating the birthday of Rama, but it should not create communal disharmony in the state.
“RSS masterminding communal riots on the d of Ram Nabami in different parts of d state. D Vigilant Left has 2 protect communal harmony at any cost,” twitted CPI-M Bengal secretary and politburo member Surya Kanta Mishra on Monday evening.
The Sangh Parivar’s announcement comes close on the heels of the RSS expressing grave concern at the ‘Akhil Bhartiya Paritinidhi Sabha’ meet in Nagpur over the ‘unabated rise in violence propagated by jihadi elements in Bengal’.
RSS also alleged that the state government/ruling party is hand-in-glove with “anti-national” elements and are encouraging them to play Muslim vote bank politics right.
“The initiative will build confidence among the Hindus of Bengal. It will foster the much needed brotherhood. Hindus are under attack and there is an unchecked rise in fundamentalist elements in the state. In a way it will be a show of might too,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh told HT.
Though BJP is formally not associated with the programmes, its workers and leaders of the state unit will join.