Kolkata, Feb 21 (PTI) Senior VHP leader Surendra Jain accused the TMC government in West Bengal on Thursday of harbouring anti-national elements and wondered whether being a nationalist was a crime in the state.

The international joint general secretary of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) alleged that under the Trinamool Congress (TMC) rule, Bengal had become a safe haven for jihadis, Rohingya migrants and anti-national elements, while Hindus were facing persecution.

“The TMC government is giving protection to anti-nationals and attacking those who are patriots. If we wave the national flag and raise slogans in favour of Mother India, is it a crime in Bengal?,” he asked.

Claiming that VHP workers were being arrested by the police in the state, Jain said, “We do not need permission from the TMC government to wave the national flag, it is our constitutional right.” Commenting on Wednesday’s attack on an anti-war march taken out by a human rights organisation in the city, he said, “What do you except a patriot to do when you see some people are supporting terrorists and Pakistan.” “The entire country wants revenge against the perpetrators of terror attacks on our jawans. When the country is united, some people are taking out rallies, saying they want peace. So, what will the common people do? They will attack those anti-nationals,” the VHP leader said.

The rights body — Association for Protection of Democratic Rights — had alleged that the BJP, the VHP and the RSS were behind the attack. The charge has been denied by all the three organisations.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the attack and asked the police to take action.

TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee dismissed Jain’s allegations as baseless and said outfits like the VHP were trying to trigger communal polarisation in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Jain announced a number of programmes the VHP would take up in West Bengal in the months to come, including during Shivratri on March 6.

“On Shivratri, the VHP cadre will throng various Shiva temples across the country and offer water to the deity with a prayer for a Ram temple in Ayodhya,” he said.

The VHP leader criticised opposition leaders for opposing a Ram temple at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, saying these “leaders of the mahagathbandhan (the proposed grand alliance of opposition parties) want to create hurdles in the path of the Ram temple as they want to use it for political purpose. For us, it is a matter of faith”.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.