The West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday organised a number of Ram Navami processions, including some where party leaders and supporters brandished arms.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, addressing a rally at Siliguri, condemned the rallies, saying they were being held by the BJP for political advantage.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh at a procession at Kharagpur, was seen brandishing a sword and a mace. Mr Ghosh who is contesting for the Lok Sabha from Medinipur, said these processions “were part of tradition and had nothing to do with politics”.
“Ram Navami rallies are a part of our tradition. These arms are to protect ourselves. It has nothing to do with elections. If anyone has a problem with armed rallies then they should change their thought process,” he said.
The BJP and affiliated Hindutva outfits conducted processions at Howrah, Kolkata, Bankura, Jhargram, and North and South 24 Parganas.
Interestingly, TMC leaders also led Ram Navami processions at a few places including in north Kolkata.
Who is the target: CM
Addressing a public rally at Siliguri, Ms Banerjee accused BJP of trying to “sell religion for political gains”.
“Some people have come out on the streets brandishing maces and swords. Whom do you want to kill with those arms? What connection does it have with politics? In West Bengal people do not vote for such things,” she said.
The TMC has also raised questions on how these BJP processions were allowed when the model code of conduct was in force.