RSS rejects Ram chants at Netaji event in Bengal
- The RSS is of the view that the slogan hailing Lord Ram should not have been shouted at a government event organised to pay homage to Netaji.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) does not support “Jai Shri Ram” slogans at an event in Kolkata to mark the 124th birth anniversary of legendary freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, according to an RSS functionary. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Mamata Banerjee attended that programme, which ran into a controversy, on January 23.
The RSS is of the view that the slogan hailing Lord Ram should not have been shouted at a government event organised to pay homage to Netaji, as Bose is fondly called, Jishnu Basu, general secretary of the RSS Bengal unit, said on Tuesday. “The Sangh is unhappy with what happened. Those who raised the slogan neither showed respect to Netaji nor showed respect to Ram. The event was held to pay homage to Netaji. Those who shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ must be identified...the party (Bharatiya Janata Party) must find out who were involved and whether this was an act of sabotage of some sort,” Basu said.
The event in Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial Hall grabbed headlines and triggered a heated debate on social media after a section of the audience shouted “Jai Shri Ram” slogans when Banerjee was about to walk up to the dais for a short speech. Subsequently, Banerjee, a guest at the event, refused to address the audience, saying the programme lost its dignity and she felt insulted.
A senior state BJP leader, who did not want to be named, said: “Some of those who shouted the slogan are known to be close to a senior leader from another state. The Prime Minister’s day-long visit on Netaji’s birthday was meticulously planned in view of the coming polls...The sloganeering punctured all the planning.”
Banerjee, who was seating close to Modi, used the sloganeering to her advantage, the BJP leader added.
“Being a seasoned politician, she quickly planned her move and put the BJP in an uncomfortable position,” he said.
The state’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) said “Jai Shri Ram” slogans at the event were “condemnable”. “...the sloganeering at a function held to celebrate the birth anniversary of Netaji was an insult to the patriot. This is the only reason why the RSS has reacted. For once they have taken the right decision,” MP and party leader Saugata Roy said.
With the BJP and the TMC racing to claim the legacy of Bose ahead of the upcoming polls, experts said the job won’t be easy for the saffron camp in Bengal. “The patriot’s strong views on inclusive and secular nationalism do not gel with the politics of religious polarisation,” said Udayan Bandopadhyay, a politics science professor and an election analyst.
The controversy comes at a time when the BJP and the TMC are locked in fierce battle for the assembly polls slated for the first half of 2021.
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