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What happened on January 23, 2021 at a Government of India programme, was “re-enacted” again on December 30, 2022 and again at a Government of India programme. The venue may be different but the dignitaries present at both occasions were same. A controversy erupted at the inaugural ceremony of West Bengal’s first Vande Bharat Express on Friday morning as irked by ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans on her arrival, CM Mamata Banerjee refused to share dais. Instead, throughout programme, she sat on a chair adjacent to the dais. From here she expressed her condolences over demise of Heeraben, mother of PM Narendra Modi. Going by the local BJP leaders and even by the Union Railway minister, that even if they tried to persuade the workers not to chant the slogans, they refused to stop. The matter, for the common man, for whom development “only” matters is really becoming a matter of concern. The common man who actually wants to remain away from such sensitive issues today is in a fix. It is becoming such an issue that it encompasses everyone and whether you like it or not, the aam aadmi is coming under the ambit of such issues.

As soon as CM arrived at the inauguration venue at the Howrah Station on Friday morning, the BJP supporters present there raised ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans. Union Railways Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, who was present on the dais, tried his best to control the BJP supporters and requested them to refrain from shouting slogans, but they refused to pay heed. CM refused to come on the dais. The railways minister was seen pleading to her again and again to get on the dais but she refused. CM Banerjee even refused to deliver her speech on the occasion. However, following repeated requests from the Governor, CV Ananda Bose, she agreed to deliver the speech, which she did without getting on to the dais.

On January 23, 2021, on the occasion of celebrating the birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata, the BJP supporters shouted slogans. PM Modi and other Union ministers were present on the occasion. Expressing her grievance over the incident, CM Banerjee said any govt programme should follow certain decorum. “It is unwise to insult any invited person at such a function. So, in protest I refuse to say anything here. Jai Hind. Jai Bangla,” she had said.

Meanwhile, a political slugfest erupted over the development on Friday morning. State municipal affairs & urban development minister and Mayor of KMC, Firhad Hakim said, “Jai Shri Ram should be said in a temple or house with a pure mind. But the BJP supporters are using this slogan to irritate our CM. Had we wished we could have stopped them immediately. But we believe in political courtesy,” he said. During 2019 LS polls, WB CM stepped off her vehicle to slam those shouting Jai Shri Ram. In May 2019 after general polls results were announced, 7 persons were arrested in WB for shouting Jai Shri Ram as Mamata’s cavalcade passed through their area. AND TATHAGATA ROY, Governor of Tripura from 2015 to 2018 and Governor of Meghalaya from August 2018 to end of his term in August 2020 had tweeted at 7.58 pm on May 31, 2019. It is perfectly possible that the people who shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ would be slapped with non-bailable attempt-to-murder (S.307 IPC) cases. I should know,it happened to ME in 2011! I was booked under 307 because I made a speech local MLA didn’t like. Had to spend a night in JC.


ROBIN ROY The writer is Senior Journalist and former Managing Editor, First India

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