Kolkata: Despite the scorching heat, scores of people, under the banners of different Left parties, marched in the city to protest against rising communalism in the country, particularly the incidents of communal violence during Ram Navami celebrations a few weeks ago.
Nabin Adwa from Konnagar, a teacher who joined the rally, said, "The incidents that recently happened in West Bengal and throughout the country are indications of squeezed democratic spaces. Ram Navami celebrations are quite uncommon in West Bengal. Currently, both the ruling party in the state and the ruling party at the Centre are handholding to organise these vile celebrations here. We worship motherly figures, like Durga and Kali. People from other communities join the celebrations. Hardcore Right-wing forces and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are working overnight to turn the state into a Hindutva region like Uttar Pradesh or some other North Indian states."
The rally, which started from Ramlila Maidan at Park Circus, crisscrossed major arterial roads and ended at Raja Bazaar crossing. The nearly two-km walk saw flags and banners with messages advocating communal harmony and constitutional values.
Left Front chairman Biman Basu, Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) state secretary MD Salim, CPI(M) olit bureau member Surjya Kanta Mishra, CPI state secretary Swapan Banerjee, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) national secretary Manoj Bhattacharya, Forward Bloc chairman Naren Chattopadhyay and several other leaders were present in the programme.
Addressing the gathering, Salim said that by using bulldozers in Jahangirpuri in Delhi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hasn't just demolished some houses but has also decimated the country's Constitution.
Echoing Salim's words, Basu said that BJP had hurt the basic tenets of the Constitution in the Jahangirpuri incident.
"We are appealing for the upkeep of communal peace in the state and the country through this rally," he said.
Leaders from other Left parties also spoke during the meeting, cautioning people that if the BJP-RSS forces have their way, they will convert India into a Hindu Rashtra where the minorities will be treated as second-class citizens.