WITH CAMPAIGNING for assembly elections in West Bengal increasingly becoming polarised, the Trinamool Congress is hoping to take advantage of recent comments made by state BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Goddess Durga – to push forward its argument that the BJP is a party of “outsiders” who do not understand Bengal’s culture.
At a media event on February 12, Ghosh, while explaining the difference between their thoughts on Ram and Durga, said that Ram was a “political icon” and an “ideal man”, and added at one point: “Durga kahan se aa gayi (where has Durga come from)”.
While the Trinamool alleged that the BJP has insulted Goddess Durga, the BJP has said what Ghosh clarified, even at the event, that they saw no comparison between the two deities.
Sources in the Trinamool said the party plans to take these comments to the people in Bengal, using “technology, and through our workers on the ground”. Immediately after Ghosh’s comments, senior party leaders and ministers took to social media, using the hashtag “BJPinsultsDurga”.
“This now has to be escalated. In several places, party workers are making sure people hear what Ghosh said. If you listen closely, twice he derides Durga. Once he says Ram’s ancestry can be recorded for 14 generations, while Durga’s can’t. At another he says where has Durga come in this conversation,” a senior leader said, adding that TMC has started campaigning aggressively over the issue.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Ghosh slammed the Trinamool for using “Durga for political purposes”.
“Who is now using Durga for their political purpose? A party that put restrictions on Saraswati Puja. They are feeling insecure and having an issue of inferiority complex. They are trying to wash off their past sins with politically using Goddess Durga. Durga is a spiritual and religious icon for us. We do puja but Ram is a political icon for us. BJP talks about Ram Rajya and it’s our ultimate aim also. The TMC has no ideology nor icons. So they are trying to raise issues like this,” he said.
At the India Today Conclave in Kolkata on February 12, Ghosh had said, “Such parties (TMC) talk of religion instead of politics, and politics instead of religion. We do politics openly. Bhagwan Ram was a king. Some think he was an avatar. His ancestry of 14 generations can be traced. Can one find the ancestry of Durga? Ram is thought of as a king, an ideal man and administrator.”
“We have a Bangla Ramayana. Gandhiji had given us the imagination of Ram Rajya. I don’t know from where Durga has come. To destroy Ravan, he prayed to Durga. That is why that is another matter. I don’t understand how you can make Durga stand against Ram. These people have taught that Ram is not a deity in Bengal and I don’t know from where this conception has come,” he said (translated from Hindi).
Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Chief Whip of the TMC in the Rajya Sabha, said the BJP does “not understand the power of Durga across India”, not just in Bengal. “In eastern India, Durga puja is a more popular festival than any other. This has been going on for centuries. Ram Navami or worship is a north Indian festival. So there cannot be a clash of both. People have faith and respect both for Ram and Maa Durga, and one should not distinguish between the two. One should not cast aspersions on either.”
TMC sources said Ghosh’s Durga comments would be a “politically crucial issue” going into the polls. They said TMC would use the video to counter BJP’s narrative that CM Mamata Banerjee was against Jai Shri Ram slogans.
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