Asansol’s Trinamool mayor seeks EC nod for Ram Navami donation; BJP objects
Incidentally, Ram Navami celebration became a controversial issue in Bengal after the BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates organised processions on Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti in the state in 2017.
A controversy has broken out in Bengal after Asansol’s Mayor Jitendra Tiwari, who is also a Trinamool MLA, wrote a letter to the district administration for providing financial assistance to organisers of Ram Navami celebrations.
Babul Supriyo, Union minister and BJP candidate from Asansol Lok Sabha constituency, has criticised the move, describing it as a ploy to appeal to the Hindu voters in the constituency.
Asansol is one of the seats in the West Burdwan district where the ruling Trinamool and the BJP are locked in a prestige fight. BJP’s Babul Supriyo is facing Trinamool’s Moon Moon Sen, who in 2014 defeated nine-time Left MP Basudeb Acharia from Bankura.
The Asansol Municipal Corporation mayor, on March 27, had shot off a letter to the additional district magistrate (election) of West Burdwan district.
“In order to observe Ram Navami in a befitting manner financial assistance is being provided to the organisers of Ram Navami by the Corporation for the last three years. This year too this Corporation intends to give financial assistance to those organisers. Under the circumstances, I would request you to kindly accord permission so that financial assistance can be distributed to the organisers this year too,” Tiwari wrote.
In 2018, the civic body donated ₹5,000 to each of 173 committees that organised Ram Navami processions.
Singer-turned-politician Babul Supriyo, who is seeking re-election from Asansol, took no time to object to Tiwari’s move.
“This Asansol Mayor is a repeat offender and should be banned from the complete election procedure. After releasing a rate card to councillors, he is now asking permission to give money to Ram Navami celebrations, which is a blatant violation of the model code of conduct,” said Supriyo.
Incidentally, on March 20, in a meeting of party workers in Asansol, Tiwari said that all Trinamool councillors would be awarded additional civil contracts commensurate with the leads they would generate in favour of the party candidate. If they can’t produce a lead from their respective wards, they should resign, Tiwari said.
“Tiwari’s move (for Ram Navami) is nothing but a gimmick because he knows giving money this way is illegal and that the EC will not permit it. He is playing dirty politics over Lord Ram,” said the minister.
“We are writing to the EC to reject his plea. We will reach out to the people to expose how the Trinamool is trying to fool the Hindus,” said Supriyo.
Tiwari, too, took digs at Supriyo and the BJP.
“We wanted to take a unanimous decision at the board meeting but three BJP councillors objected. It’s shameful that the BJP that seeks votes in the name of Ram and raise funds in the name of building Ram Temple is objecting to routine financial assistance to Ram Bhakts,” Tiwari said.
Incidentally, Ram Navami celebration became a controversial issue in Bengal after the BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates organised processions on Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti in the state in 2017. The celebrations have always been very limited and low-key affairs in a few pockets of Bengal.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee initially criticised the BJP for trying to “impose north Indian culture on Bengal”. But in 2018, the Trinamool embarked on a mission to compete with the BJP, RSS and its affiliate bodies in organising Ram Navami processions.
“The BJP and the Trinamool are indulging in competitive communalism. We hope the EC does not allow the donation,” said Gouranga Chatterjee, the CPI(M) candidate from Asansol.
In 2014, Supriyo won from Asansol by a margin of more than 70,480 votes. However, in the 2016 assembly elections in Bengal, five of the seven assembly seats constituting the Lok Sabha seat voted for Trinamool candidates, while the other two were won by the Left.