Kolkata: Those objecting to the Jai Shri Ram chant will never be accepted in the country, former Trinamool MP Dinesh Trivedi said while explaining the troubles he faced in the party.
In an interview with ThePrint, the one-time railways minister said he was forced to leave the Trinamool Congress due to a number of “humiliations” he faced over the past six years. “Instead of listening to my objection to corruption and violence, I had to face humiliation,” he said.
Trivedi quit the TMC, the ruling party in West Bengal, in a dramatic speech on the floor of the Rajya Sabha on 12 February.
He told ThePrint Friday that the party put him in an embarrassing situation on a number of occasions, including asking him “to condemn people who chanted Jai Shri Ram”.
“Jai Shri Ram represents Indian culture,” Trivedi told ThePrint. “When we say Jai Shri Ram, we respect and value the maryada Purushottam Ram. Anyone who has objection to that cannot be accepted by India.”
Trivedi added that Jai Shri Ram has never been a “political slogan” but in West Bengal has become an “expression of the people’s resentment against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s appeasement and vote-bank politics”.
Mamata Banerjee, in a January event to celebrate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary at Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, was irked by a section of the audience that shouted Jai Shri Ram as she was about to speak.
Calling it a “political slogan”, the chief minister said government events should have some dignity and refused to deliver her speech. Trinamool Congress leaders also condemned the slogan shouting and called it an “insult” to the chief minister.
Trivedi, who is a founder-member of the Trinamool Congress, said a section of people are “venting their anxiety, frustration and resentment by shouting Jai Shri Ram”.
‘Leader has lost control’
Trivedi told ThePrint that the Trinamool should take stock and analyse why so many of its MLA and leaders were resigning from the party.
“I mentioned a word suffocation in my speech in Parliament. Instead of abusing leaders who quit the party, they should introspect,” he said. “The party’s control has shifted to someone from the leader. She hardly has any hold over her colleagues now.”
He added that he was not comfortable with some of the things he was asked to do in the party. “The leaders in charge of the Parliamentary party used to routinely ask me to abuse the prime minister and the home minister,” Trivedi alleged. “Why should I abuse anyone? That is not my culture. In fact, that is not Bengal’s culture. There are several issues to talk about in the Parliament, why abuse?”
Reacting to the allegations by his former colleagues that he never tried to negotiate or discuss the concerns he was having in the party, he said had tried to reach out and communicate with the party’s top leadership but did not get any positive response.
Instead, he added, his suggestions to the party were also shot down, especially with regard to tainted leaders caught on camera taking bribes during the Narada sting operation of 2016.
“I requested her (Mamata) to keep the accused persons away for some time and let the law take its own course,” he said. “For saying that, I was barred from campaigning in my constituency during the 2016 elections.”
‘Bengali ethos has no concept of outsiders’
In what is set to add to the speculation that Trivedi may join the BJP, he said that TMC leaders terming those of the national party as “outsiders” was a “deviation from Bengal’s ethos”.
“Top leaders who started political careers at a very young age, and use filthy language of abuse, do not reflect the Bengali culture and ethos. They are outsiders,” he said. “They are born in Bengali families but they do not know what Bengal stands for. They are the actual outsider.”
Mamata Banerjee also terms all top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and party president J.P. Nadda, as “outsiders”.
“They should learn from Pranab Mukherjee, who is one of the tall leaders of the country. He was sent to Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. Did they call him an outsider?” Trivedi asked. “I would rather say that the Trinamool leaders, who are using such filthy language, are the actual outsiders.”
On the chief minister challenging Shah and Modi to compete with her on chanting mantras, Trivedi said, “It is really sad to see that the chief minister needs to chant mantras to establish her Hindutva. What is the need of that? One may not chant the mantra but one understands Gita and Mahabharata, that is enough. People do not need to recite mantras, they need to understand and believe in them.”
Trivedi is yet to join the BJP, and has not spoken openly about his future political plans, though there is speculation that he will be inducted into the national party soon.