Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ is the BJP’s slogan and it is trying to force everybody to chant it.
“Does Ramchandra become BJP’s election agent when election comes?” the fiery TMC supremo asked at public rallies.
None can be forced to chant what Narendra Modi or BJP wants, she said adding that West Bengal’s culture has never been what the saffron party is trying to make it.
The slogan of the people of Bengal is ‘Vande Mataram’ of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and ‘Jai Hind’ of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, she said.
“Why should I give your slogan? I will not chant the name of rotten Modi or rotten BJP. They are trying to erase the culture of Bengal,” a combative Banerjee said.
A video has appeared in the social media that shows Banerjee stopping her car at a place in West Midnapore district and chasing some people who chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ as her carcade was passing the area.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing rallies at Jhargram and Tamluk in the state on Monday said that in Bengal people are not allowed to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and that saying it in public places is regarded as a crime in West Bengal.
Addressing the rallies, Banerjee said that it is not the culture of people of Bengal to chant a single person’s name.
“When we do Durga Puja we say Jay Ma Durga, when we do Kali Puja we say Jay Ma Kali but we do not give any particular slogan always like the BJP,” she said.
Taking a dig at the saffron party’s vow to construct a Ram Temple at Ayodhya, she said that while she has renovated Kali temples at Dakshineswar, Tarapith and Kankalitala in the state “BJP has not been able to set up a single Ram temple in the country in five years though they chant Jai Shri Ram.”
Alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was trying to do politics over Cyclone ‘Fani’, Banerjee said, “If you (Modi) think you will politicise it (cyclone) you must remember that I too understand politics.”
The chief minister said that in 2015, 2016 and 2017 there were floods in the state but no relief was given to it by the Modi government despite several demands by her.
“He (Modi) wants us to go to Jhargram (where he held a public meeting Monday) to discuss the situation related to the cyclone. He will sip tea and I will have to sit beside him and have pictures clicked. Why should I go?” she asked.
“He has come before the elections. He is bypassing the chief minister and calling the chief secretary, who is under the chief minister and not the prime minister,” she said.
Criticising Modi for pointing fingers at former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, Banerjee said that he should have shown respect for a departed leader.
“Rajiv Gandhi died for the country. You may not like him but you should give respect to a departed leader,” Banerjee, who was given prominence as a young firebrand leader during her days in the Congress by the former prime minister, said.
She questioned the language used by Modi asking how can a prime minister say she is a “tolabaj”, (extortionist) “You (Modi) say TMC is tolabaj. Is this the language to be used by a prime minister.
“If I am tolabaj, what are you, your hands are bloodied with communal riots in Gujarat,” she said.