Kolkata: Security has been stepped up across West Bengal ahead of Ram Navami rallies planned by the Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party. On Saturday, Dilip Ghosh, the Bengal BJP chief had confirmed that supporters will “carry traditional Indian arms” at rallies in Howrah and Kharagpur. The Ram Navami procession in Howrah will be held in the morning while the one in Kharagpur, which will be led by Dilip Ghosh, will start at 4 pm.
On Saturday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, at a meeting in Bolpur said “hooliganism will not be tolerated”. Ms Banerjee told news agency PTI, “I know that there are only a couple of organisations in Howrah and Asansol which traditionally hold Ram Navami processions with arms. Those who have been celebrating Ram Navami for more than a decade will be given special permission to hold processions with arms.”
“Do not allow anybody trying to hold such processions for the first time. We are not against organisations holding Ram Navami processions but they have to be peaceful,” said the chief minister. Ms Banerjee has asked the Director General of Police, Surajit Kar Purkayastha, to be on alert and encourage people at the local level to stay vigilant and report anyone trying to disrupt harmony during the celebrations.
As per source the Bengal BJP has planned “bigger celebrations” in Kolkata said Mr Ghosh. “In Kolkata alone there would be five or six major rallies. Along with the bigger towns and district headquarters, rallies would be taken out in villages with equal vigour,” Mr Ghosh told.
The Trinamool Congress will also take out Ram Navami rallies in Howrah, led by Minister Arup Roy, who told reporters yesterday, “We won’t carry any arms or religious motifs. We will tell people to maintain harmony.”
Trinamool Congress’ rallies in Howrah drew criticism from Mr Ghosh, who said “people who have so far opposed the celebrations are now eager to observe Ram Navami, to gain the support of the majority of the people.”
Politics over Ram Navami has taken the centre stage in West Bengal with both BJP and Trinamool trying get popular youth support in a pre-election year.