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West Bengal Left Front Issues Strong Warning Against Fanning of Religious Sentiments on Ram Mandir Issue

Aside from the prime minister's advice against flocking to Ayodhya on the day due to overcrowding, BJP workers in the state have been encouraged to celebrate an untimely Diwali.
CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat stated that when the communists criticise Israeli aggression, they might be branded as terrorists.

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Kolkata: West Bengal Left Front has taken strong exception to the issue of “fanning of religious sentiments by the BJP” ahead of the Ram Mandir opening this month. The former has stated that to uphold the peace and harmony in the state, they will run a campaign until January 17 in the state.

Left Front Chairman Biman Basu said that it is a matter of concern that religious sentiments and passions are being “fanned by deliberate campaigns by the RSS and their political arm, the BJP, in the state”. He also opined that it is a programme to denounce the secular principles of the country.

Basu has called upon all Left party workers in the state to stay vigilant until January 22 – the grand opening day. In addition, on January 23, Patriotism Day will be observed in the state by the Front, on the occasion of the 128th birth anniversary of Subhas Chandra Bose. On January 26 – Republic Day of India – the national tricolour will be hoisted at many locations in the state, and the Preamble of India’s constitution will be read out loud. January 30, the day of M K Gandhi's martyrdom, will be observed as the day for communal harmony and amity. A programme will also be organised in Beleghata's Gandhi Bhawan.

Pawan Hela (32), a dalit conservancy worker from Kolkata Municipal Corporation, who earns Rs 15,000 monthly, has been enlisted by the Bharatiya Janata Party to go to the grand opening of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Pawan has to pay Rs 1,200 for the trip and the rest will be taken care of by the BJP. To Pawan, going to Ayodhya means much more than a trip; he feels the occasion marks the hoisting of a Hindutva flag with its shadow cast on the entire country – even on the non-believers. Pawan's father had been one of the karsevaks who, he claims, took part in the Babri demolition in Ayodhya in the 90s, but he was a staunch supporter of Subhas Chandra Bose. His transition into joining Hindutva politics came after he was allegedly beaten up by the then ruling party in Bengal, in the Entally area for being a Forward Block supporter.

"In BJP, I can breathe freely, and there are no attacks of Trinamool raining on us. Earlier, as Forward Block supporters, we were beaten up by TMC and harassed by the local thana under any pretext," he said, talking to NewsClick. Pawan is not alone, but more than thousands are going from Kolkata to join the Ram Mandir celebration in Ayodhya.

The BJP sees the Ram Mandir inauguration as a strategic move ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Aside from the prime minister's advice against flocking to Ayodhya on the day due to overcrowding, BJP workers in the state have been encouraged to celebrate an untimely Diwali. In the following months, the BJP in Bengal has requested the Union Railway Minister to organise special Ram Mandir trains to Ayodhya from each of the 42 parliamentary constituencies, with food and stay expenses covered and subsidised railway tickets for devotees.

Faid Chowdhury (49), a maths teacher, recollected the day when Babri Masjid was torn apart by the karsevaks with 'support from the BJP leaders'. He now feels unsafe, wondering whether the Ram Mandir inauguration too will fan communal sentiments and start riots in the country. What happens in the riots is that poor people are always the victims. In 1992, it was Jyoti Basu who stopped riots in West Bengal and deployed the army. But now, there is no Jyoti Basu; riots, if they happen, will go on unabated, and the principal opposition party has embarked on a campaign of spreading religious hatred in the state in the name of the inauguration of Ram Mandir," he said.

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