PM Modi, Mamata Banerjee trade barbs as row over monks intensifies | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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PM Modi, Mamata Banerjee trade barbs as row over monks intensifies

By, Kolkata
May 21, 2024 01:16 AM IST

Modi also said Banerjee is “issuing threats” against the monks of the Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Sangha, and condemned the vandalism at an ashram.

The war of words between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee over the latter’s remarks against the Ramakrishna Mission and the Bharat Sevashram Sangha intensified on Monday, with Modi accusing the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of unleashing a reign of terror on such institutes to appease its vote bank and the ruling party’s chairperson clarifying that she is not against any institution but those indulging in political activities despite being monks.

Narendra Modi slammed Mamata Banerjee for insulting Hindu organisations like ISKCON, Ramakrishna Mission, and Bharat Sevashram.
Narendra Modi slammed Mamata Banerjee for insulting Hindu organisations like ISKCON, Ramakrishna Mission, and Bharat Sevashram.

Bharat Sevashram Sangha monk sends legal notice to Mamata Banerjee

Modi also said Banerjee is “issuing threats” against the monks of the Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Sangha, and condemned the vandalism at an ashram of the Ramakrishna Mission in the state’s Jalpaiguri district on Sunday.

The Ramakrishna Mission is a spiritual organisation and the Bharat Sevashram Sangha is a Hindu religious and spiritual institute founded in 1917 by Swami Pranavananda Mahara.

At an election rally in Jhargram on Monday, Modi said: “It is shameful that the TMC has taken up the onus of hurting the religious faith of Hindus in Bengal. The chief minister is threatening the Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Ashram monks. On Sunday night, the Ramakrishna Mission ashram in Jalpaiguri was attacked. The people of Bengal will not tolerate this.”

He was referring to the vandalism at an ashram of the Ramakrishna Mission in Jalpaiguri district on Sunday morning, where a group of 10 armed men allegedly threatened monks and other employees at gunpoint. In their complaint with the police, Ramakrishna Mission employees alleged the armed men arrived at the spot at around 3am and damaged the security cameras. They further alleged the role of the local land mafia and said the attack was carried out over an old property dispute.

Continuing his tirade against the ruling dispensation, Modi said: “ISKCON, Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Sangha are known for service and morality, but today, the chief minister of Bengal is openly threatening them. This is being done to appease the vote bank. As the chief minister herself is threatening the monks, TMC goons now dare to attack Ramakrishna Mission. How can anybody even think of attacking the premises of Ramakrishna Mission.”

The nation knows the role that the Ramakrishna Mission has played in my life, Modi said. “Even after becoming Prime Minister, I spend nights in the company of the monks of the Mission,” he added.

Modi’s latest attack on the TMC came two days after Banerjee accused a section of monks from the two organisations and ISCKON – a Vaishnava Hindu religious organisation – of asking voters to support the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

On Saturday, Banerjee told a rally in Hooghly: “I have great respect for monks but not all of them are the same... I have heard about Kartick Maharaj (of BSS) who said he will not allow any TMC election agent in polling booths. I do not consider him a monk because he is directly involved in politics….”

A day later, Modi slammed the TMC for “crossing the limits of decency” by “spreading falsehoods” against the organisations.

At another poll rally on Monday, Banerjee said she was not against any institution but criticised one or two persons for indulging in political activities despite being monks.

“I am not against the Ramakrishna Mission, why should I be against an institution or insult it? I have spoken about one or two persons,” she said in Bankura.

She also praised the Bharat Sevashram Sangha, saying it works for the people and that they also love her. “I had spoken about Kartik Maharaj, he did not allow a TMC agent to sit (at a polling booth) in Rejinagar,” she said.

She claimed that the Bharat Sevashram Sangha monk from Murshidabad was working for the BJP and accused him of instigating people when clashes between two groups happened at Rejinagar a few weeks ago.

“If he wants to do BJP, he can, but should do it wearing its badge,” she said.

Amid mounting attacks by the chief minister, the monk, whose ascetic name is Swami Pradiptananda, said he has sent her a legal notice, demanding an apology for her alleged defamatory remarks within 48 hours.

“I, therefore, call upon you to forthwith address the press and issue an unconditional apology and retract your virulent and malafide statement within 48 hours from receipt of the instant notice and cease and desist from making further similar statements against my client defaming and maligning my client,” said the letter sent to the chief minister by Billwadal Bhattacharyya, a Calcutta high court advocate representing the monk.

‘TMC attacking monks to appease vote bank’: PM Modi slams Mamata Banerjee on Ramakrishna Mission row

Meanwhile, state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury backed Banerjee’s allegation against the monk but said she has no right to “judge people”. “I have heard about this monk on several occasions. He works for political parties and hence, cannot be called a monk. Banerjee, however, has no right to judge people because she does not follow secular politics,” he said.

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