Months before the Lok Sabha polls, the TMC and BJP in West Bengal will evaluate their political prowess on Monday, aligning with the Ram temple consecration in Ayodhya, with Mamata Banerjee slated to lead an "all-faith" rally seeking to project a counter-narrative to BJP's Hindutva politics. The much-awaited Ram temple consecration will be held in Ayodhya on Monday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the rituals, following which the shrine will be opened for the public a day later.
TMC to hold an all-faith harmony rally on January 22
The TMC, which has accused the BJP of trying to politicise a religious event by attempting to put up a "gimmick show" ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, has announced to hold a mega all-faith harmony rally in the metropolis led by West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee. The party will also hold similar rallies in every block of the state.
The Bengal BJP, which has unsuccessfully demanded that the day be declared a holiday in the state, along with several other Hindu outfits, has planned several events and programmes across the state to celebrate the day, including setting up LED screens in various areas where the Ram temple inauguration will be telecast live.
Bengal BJP has accused TMC of trying to create distraction
The opposition BJP has accused the TMC of trying to create distraction and divert attention from the historic Pran Pratistha ceremony of Lord Ram through the "all-faith rally". The party also accused the state government of impeding programmes to celebrate the scheduled inauguration of the temple.
"The BJP is trying to vitiate the atmosphere of the country. Everybody loves Lord Ram. But the BJP mixes politics with religion, we are against this trend. And the all-faith rally by our party supremo is just a precursor to Republic Day celebrations," TMC MP Sougata Roy said.
'All-faith rally should not be considered as a counter,' said TMC
Echoing him, TMC minister Shashi Panja said the all-faith rally should not be viewed as a counter to any programme, as projected by the BJP. "The all-faith rally is not aimed at countering any other programme. Allegations that the state government is trying to stop programmes by the BJP are baseless and untrue," she said.
The BJP, however, felt that the TMC's rally was aimed at appeasing a particular community in the state. "The TMC's rally is aimed at appeasing a particular community, especially the minorities of the state. Otherwise, what was the need for organising a rally on the same day? The TMC wants to create a law and order situation in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls," leader of the opposition Suvendu Adhikari said.
West Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar said, "Those trying to stop celebrations regarding Ram temple inauguration will be given a befitting reply in the next elections. The TMC is taking out the rally to counter the event in Ayodhya."
BJP slammed TMC govt for not announcing holiday on January 22
Majumdar slammed the TMC government for not announcing a holiday on January 22, despite requests by the saffron camp. Central government establishments, public sector banks, insurance companies, financial institutions and regional rural banks (RRBs) across the country will remain closed for half a day on January 22.
Several states, including neighbouring Assam and Odisha, have also declared a half-day holiday to mark the consecration ceremony. Political analyst Maidul Islam thinks that both the TMC and the BJP will be using the Ram temple inauguration celebrations event and all-faith rally to gauge their strength among the masses.
January 22 will be a warm-up match between TMC & BJP ahead of Lok Sabha polls
"January 22 will be a warm-up match for both the TMC and the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. With TMC trying to reach out to the minorities and the Left-liberals, the BJP will try to consolidate the Hindu votes in the state," Islam, a professor at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, said. In the 2019 elections, TMC secured 22 seats, Congress won two, and BJP secured 18 seats in the state.