With cowdung and Gangajal, Trinamool ‘purifies’ BJP rally ground in Cooch Behar
A year after a NASA-funded research by United States Department of Agriculture concluded that solid waste left by cows and other livestock contribute to global warming by emitting methane, a greenhouse gas, cow dung is adding heat to the political war Bengal is witnessing over the BJP’s rath yatra.
With a Calcutta High Court single bench order compelling the BJP to abort the much-hyped programme at Cooch Behar in north Bengal on Friday, the Trinamool Congress on Saturday cleaned the rally ground with cow dung and Gangajal (water from the Ganges, the most scared river for Hindus) to “purify” the ground in “traditional Hindu” style.
On Saturday morning, hundreds of Trinamool supporters arrived at the 2,37,600 sq ft venue that had been offered to the BJP for its rally by a local sympathiser and enclosed it with a barricade made of bamboo poles. Chinu Kundu, 55, owner of the plot, watched helplessly, as Trinamool flags were hoisted around her property. “It is their (Trinamool’s) habit. Let my land be purified,” she said, even as local people feared that Trinamool workers might occupy the plot for a while, merely to flex muscle.
“We have not taken over the land. We only purified it with cow dung and Gangajal. That is why our flags were put up. The purification programme was announced by Mamata Banerjee,” said Rabindranath Ghosh, Trinamool Cooch Behar district president and senior minister. Ghosh did not say why the barricade was put up.
After returning to Kolkata, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh tried to sound defiant despite Friday’s setback. “Those who know they have sinned use cow dung and Gangajal for purification. We stick to pure politics. As announced earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address our rally in Siliguri (in north Bengal) on December 16,” Ghosh said.
Asked about the public meeting BJP had held on the Cooch Behar rally ground that Trinamool “purified,” Ghosh said, “We did not hold any rally. We went there only to thank the people who had assembled.”
Trinamool leaders in districts across Bengal have announced that each time the BJP holds a rally, roads will be cleaned with cow dung, water and, if possible, water from the Ganges. They have also vowed to take out processions in which Kirtan (devotional songs) and rituals associated with the Sanatan Hindu Dharma, will be performed.
For centuries, cow dung and water have been used by Hindus to purify homes, courtyards, temples and venues of rituals. People in many rural areas of Bengal still clean homes and court yards the traditional way. Cow dung cakes are also used by the poor as fuel to cook food in open ovens.
“Using cow dung to purify a place is a practice every Hindu Bengali easily relate to. Trinamool has formulated a smart strategy to counter BJP. The ruling party is likely to reap dividends,” said political observer and columnist Suvasish Maitra. “In 1990, the BJP had gained a lot of ground with its rath yatra. Mamata Banerjee seems to have kept that in mind,” Maitra added.
“After appeasing Muslims all these years, Trinamool is now turning to Gau Mata to seek salvation,” quipped BJP national president Rahul Sinha.
BJP’s rath yatra, dubbed Ganatantra Bachao Yatra (Save Democracy rally ), was supposed to cover all 294 Assembly constituencies in Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha segments. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top BJP leaders were slated to address around 40 public meetings.