Mamata’s communal harmony rally casts a shadow over Ram Temple consecration; draws mixed reactions

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India Tomorrow

NEW DELHI–West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has ruffled feathers with her plans for an all-faith Sadbhavna rally on January 22, the same day Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

With tensions already simmering around the long-awaited consecration, this counter-event marks a fresh chapter in the ongoing tug-of-war between political agendas and religious sentiments.

Banerjee, a critic of Modi’s BJP, insists the rally is not a protest but a celebration of interfaith harmony. She plans to start with prayers at the Kalighat Temple, followed by a procession winding through mosques, churches, and gurdwaras before culminating in a public gathering. This show of inclusivity comes amid accusations from her rivals who claim it’s a veiled attempt to undermine the Ram Temple’s significance.

Announcing a mega all-religion rally on Tuesday, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee rejected the politicization of religious events, asserting, “Temple consecration is not for politicians, it’s for priests and saints. Our duty is to build infrastructure, and that’s what I’ll do.”

“Everybody is welcome,” declared Mamata. “This isn’t just a TMC rally, it’s an open invitation to anyone seeking solace in shared humanity. People of all faiths are encouraged to participate, demonstrating the strength of West Bengal’s pluralistic spirit.”

Simultaneously, TMC leaders across districts will organize similar interfaith rallies, amplifying the message of unity and inclusivity throughout the state.

Speaking with Indiatomorrow.net, Welfare Party of India president Dr. SQR Ilyas criticized both BJP and TMC, saying they were doing wrong by involving themselves in such religious issues. He emphasized that working for communal harmony is good, but political parties’ primary function is to resolve or raise public issues like employment and the economy. “People elect them to address concerns related to food, shelter, and basic necessities,” Dr Ilyas stated. “Instead of focusing on these real issues, both parties are distracting attention with irrelevant matters,” he added.

Senior Muslim leader and West Bengal state secretary of the Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity (FDCA), Maulana Abdul Aziz cautiously commended Mamata’s communal amity rally as a countermeasure against rising communalism due to the politically charged Ram Temple event.

Maulana Abdul Aziz emphasized that Mamata’s inclusive approach, involving all religious communities, presented a more positive alternative to the BJP’s polarization efforts on January 22nd. He explained that Mamata’s rally served both electoral and social cohesion goals, aiming to shift attention from the BJP’s event towards promoting communal harmony, especially in light of the upcoming general elections.

Regarding Mamata’s visit to the Kali temple before the rally, Maulana Abdul Aziz pointed out that the RSS and BJP created a communally charged atmosphere, compelling even secular party leaders to integrate Hindu rituals into their programmes. He cited Mamata and Arvind Kejriwal chanting Hindu bhajans during party events as examples of attempts to demonstrate themselves as Hindu leaders, besides involving all communities to counter divisive forces.

However, Maulana Abdul Aziz suggested that Mamata Banerjee could have joined the INDIA coalitions’ Bharat Jodo Yatra instead of holding a separate rally on January 22nd.

Maulana Abdul Aziz also informed that around 140 civil society groups and organizations, including FDCA, would be organizing an anti-fascist meet and rally on the same date at Kolkata’s Netaji Indoor Stadium to counter the charged atmosphere. He noted that activists like Teesta Setalwad, Harsh Mandar, and Medha Patkar are expected to attend this protest march.

The CPI-M state secretary Md. Salim has questioned Mamata Banerjee’s legitimacy in holding an all-faith rally, alleging that she paved the way for the BJP’s entry into West Bengal and has shown support for both the BJP and the RSS.

Flaying both the BJP and TMC for neglecting crucial issues such as unemployment, another senior CPI (M) leader Sujan Chakraborty condemned their focus on programs like Banerjee’s rally and Modi’s Ayodhya event, calling them a blatant attempt to divert public attention.

Opposing both BJP and Mamata’s Hindutva agenda, Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist (SUCI) has also announced a rally on January 22.

BJP West Bengal leader and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari has petitioned the Calcutta High Court seeking a postponement of a Trinamool Congress rally and the deployment of armed forces on Jan 22, citing potential violence due to coinciding with the Ram temple event. The division bench has accepted the plea and will likely hear it on Thursday.

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