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Bengal under lockdown, so BJP is celebrating Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan at home — ‘in protest’

There has been politicking over the date as CM Mamata Banerjee, who changed the lockdown dates for August four times in 6 days, didn't exclude 5 August.

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Kolkata: West Bengal is in the midst of a lockdown but that hasn’t stopped the BJP and its affiliates from celebrating the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

The Sangh Parivar organisations have directed their associated bodies to not indulge in “civil disobedience” or try to break the lockdown, but have urged them to light diyas (lamps), blow conch shells and carry out pujas at home today. 

The BJP has, however, said celebrations will continue later. 

There has already been politicking over the date as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who changed the lockdown dates for August four times in six days, decided not to exclude 5 August. 

The RSS-BJP leaders, however, said Mamata’s actions will help them in getting more support from Hindus in Bengal as it did three years ago in 2017, when her government altered dates for Durga idol immersion as it clashed with Muharram. 

The Trinamool Congress, on its part, has said it is the government’s decision to announce the lockdown date as and when it wants, accusing the BJP of trying to politicise and communalise the matter. 

“It is purely the government’s decision when to announce lockdown,” veteran Trinamool MP Sougata Roy said. “People will understand that our chief minister has taken these decisions for their sake. She does not earn anything out of this. BJP should not politicise the Covid crisis.” 

Also read: Mamata govt forms 250-member doctors’ team to guide hospitals as Covid toll rises

‘Celebrate at home’

There have been strict instructions from top BJP leaders and senior functionaries of the RSS to maintain calm across the state. As a mark of respect, the home and locality of the Kothari brothers, the two kar sevaks from Kolkata who had been killed in police firing in Ayodhya, has been decorated with diyas, and their sister, 49-year-old Purnima Kothari, was taken to Ayodhya Monday as one of the 175 special guests. 

After high-level meetings, several discussions and deliberations over the issue in West Bengal, the senior functionaries of RSS decided to refrain from indulging in any celebration that may lead to ‘law and order’ problem. The decision was then communicated to all its frontal and sister organisations, and also BJP, ThePrint learnt from sources. 

Speaking to ThePrint, Jishnu Basu, RSS secretary in West Bengal, said, “Mamata Banerjee is the only politician and chief minister in the country who has shown such disrespect to Lord Ram. She has done it intentionally to appease and please a particular community that she uses as her vote-bank. Her government is the most ‘Hindu-virodhi’ government that India witnessed since Independence.” 

He added, “We have instructed all our cadres and affiliated organisations to stay calm and composed,” he added. “Ram puja will be organised at home. We will blow conch shells at 12.15 pm and light diyas at 6 pm today at every household. This is our form of protest. People are seeing what she has been doing to Hindus and her actions will strengthen  the resolve of people to oust her.” 

The state BJP unit has followed suit.

Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, “It is not our programme. And we will not do anything to break the lockdown. We will observe the auspicious day at home. Celebration programmes will be organised later.” 

Ghosh said his party and several other organisations had requested the chief minister to keep 5 August out of the lockdown schedule. 

“She changed lockdown dates multiple times. But her whims and fancies are only for Muharram and Eid, not for Ram,” he alleged. “This tradition of anti-Hindu actions has been continuing for the last three years when she blocked Durga Visarjan and then Saraswati puja. People will respond to this, democratically.” 

Apart from the Sangh Parivar, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also observed the day at Raj Bhavan by lighting diyas. Dhankhar tweeted saying Mamata Banerjee’s silence resonates ‘appeasement’ and that Ram-Sita are there in the Constitution. 

Sister of deceased kar sevaks taken to Ayodhya 

Forty-nine year old Purnima Kothari, sister of Kothari brothers, kar sevaks from Kolkata, has been taken to Ayodhya. 

Ram and Sharad Kothari, known as Kothari brothers from Kolkata, were among the kar sevaks killed in Ayodhya in the run-up to the demolition of the Babri Masjid mosque. The Kothari brothers were part of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in 1989. In 1990, they led 69 kar sevaks to Ayodhya. They were killed in police firing on 2 November that year.

Talking to ThePrint from Ayodhya, Purnima said, “This is a dream come true for me and my family. I am one of the 175 special guests invited here. The senior functionaries of the trust personally came and greeted me. My brothers sacrificed their lives for Ram and today their sacrifice bears fruit.” 

Reacting to Mamata Banerjee’s decision, she said, “Her arrogance and disregard have prompted people to take up the saffron flag. Aaj har jaga Bhagwa jhanda lahra raha hain, unka ghamand chur hone me der nahin hai.”

The BJP has also planned a memorial for the Kothari brothers in Bengal. 

Trinamool divided 

Even as top senior Congress leaders have expressed their respect towards the Ram Temple over the last 48 hours, a section of senior Trinamool Congress leaders feels the chief minister should have dropped this date from her lockdown calendar to avoid unnecessary controversy. 

“We all know how the BJP plays the communal card. The decision of altering the Durga immersion date in 2017 still haunts the party,” said a senior Trinamool Congress leader.  

“Didi could have dropped 5 August from her lockdown calendar, especially when she changed dates multiple times to accommodate all festivals. We are playing into the BJP’s hands.” 

Also read: Short of Covid beds, Kolkata ‘forcing’ infected to sign ‘isolation bonds’ & quarantine at home


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