Eager to mobilise cadre for the upcoming Panchayat elections, the BJP made Ram Navami an event to celebrate in the state - launching massive rallies in Kolkata and the districts. Slogans of "UP boley Jai Shree Ram, Bangal Boley Jay Shree Ram," filled the air, as BJP workers, clad in saffron and waving flags and swords marched across the streets of Kolkata and other parts of the state.
The ruling party launched its own rallies. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was seen on the posters wishing people on the occasion of Ram Navami, advised the BJP not to mix religion and politics. "The BJP should not describe Ram Navami as its own. The BJP has nothing to do with it. It should stop using religion (for politics)," Ms Banerjee announced while addressing a rally in Bankura.
The Chief Minister, who has been accused of appeasing the minorities by the BJP, insisted that the festival that has been celebrated in the past in her state. The Trinamool organised several rallies in Asansol and Midnapore.
The BJP's ideological mentor RSS claimed it has held more than 200 Ram Navami processions all over West Bengal saying it wanted to unite people against what they called the "growing Jehadi activities" in the state. In Kolkata and its adjoining areas alone, more than 22 rallies were taken out, news agency Press Trust of India quoted Bidyut Mukherjee, RSS organisational secretary for Bengal, as saying.
Expressing support to the RSS programme, Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh told PTI, "We fully support such programmes to celebrate Ram Navami. It will help people unite against the anti-national forces and vote-bank politics".
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