- Mamata Banerjee attacked the BJP at a rally in Kolkata
- "You can't drug people with the opium of religion," she said
- She also accused the government of using brute force in Kashmir
After a lifelong political battle with the Left Front, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today borrowed a phrase from Karl Marx to attack the BJP. "You (the BJP) cannot drug people with the opium of religion," declared the Chief Minister, who ended the 35-year Left rule in Bengal. Her speech to students in Kolkata also ended with a challenge and a taunt - "Ravan worshipper" - for the party that has aspired for long to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
"The Karnataka government fell. No one could say a word. The central government is either threatening opposition leaders or buying them out with money. It is after Bengal now, as we are opposing its policies and divisive politics. But Bengal is not so cheap. In Bengal we fight... The central government can put me behind bars, but I will not bow down before the BJP," she said a students' rally in Kolkata today.
The state, she said, celebrates all religions. "We observe Durga puja, Kali puja... What do you do? You worship Ravana (the demon king in Ramayana defeated by Lord Ram)," said the Chief Minister, who has repeatedly accused the BJP of politicising the "Jai Shri Ram" chant. Explaining the allegation, she said the BJP is "terrorising the police, IPS officers are losing jobs, the people in distress". The important institutions of the country are being headed by retired bureaucrats, who are acting as "yes men" of the government, she added.
The Chief Minister's address to the students comes as the students in the elite Presidency College plan to screen "Ram Ke Naam" - the controversial award winning documentary by Anand Patwardhan on the right-wing group Vishwa Hindu Parishad's campaign for a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.
The Chief Minister also spoke on Kashmir, accusing the government of "using brute force to scuffle all voices of dissent in the Valley". "We will stand by Kashmir," she said -- her second such declaration since the government's move to end special status for Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.
The country, Ms Banerjee said, is heading towards a "presidential form of government". "I am predicting one election, one party rule soon," she said.
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