In Bengal, an anti-COVID-19 lock down today ensured Ayodhya Bhoomi Poojan celebrations were few and far between. But that they took place at all signalled countdown to the 2021 electoral face-off that the Trinamool and BJP are hurtling towards in this state. The BJP called today’s lockdown an example of Mamata Banerjee’s appeasement politics. She tweeted a call for unity in diversity.
A rash of Ram Mandir Bhoomi Poojan celebrations was reported from Cooch Behar in North Bengal to Kharagpur and Kolkata in the south. In most cases, the police peacefully dispersed crowds. But at Kharagpur, police had to resort to a lathicharge to control a crowd at a temple that turned hostile.
Kharagpur is the seat of BJP MP and state chief Dilip Ghosh, who urged Mamata Banerjee to call off the lock down on 5th August and accused her of appeasement politics for not rescheduling the date.
“I had appealed her to change her decision as people wanted to do celebrate on his historic day. I said do the lock down on any other day. But the govt stuck to its decision. People maintained lockdown rules and went to temples to mark the day. But the police harassed devotees, arrested them. In Kharagpur, they wouldn’t let people enter a temple. One can’t imagine a situation like this anywhere. But it is happening in Bengal,” he said.
The Trinamool has tiptoed around the Ayodhya issue. There was total silence on the judgement in November, barring a poem by Mamata Banerjee saying that in many situations silence was golden.
Today, too, she held her silence barring a cryptic tweet, appealing that India preserve its legacy of unity in diversity and that Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians were all brothers.
Hindu Muslim Sikh Isaai
Aapas mein hain Bhai Bhai!
Mera Bharat Mahaan,
Mahaan Hamara Hindustan.
Our country has always upheld the age-old legacy of unity in diversity, and we must preserve this to our last breath! (1/2)
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) August 5, 2020
Not just the BJP, the Bengal governor too has joined the issue. Hours before he lit lamps at the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata to celebrate the bhoomi poojan in Ayodhya, he tweeted, “Long wait over thanks to historic judicial verdict. Appeasement Silence Stance @MamataOfficial resonates,” questioning the Chief Minister’s silence on the issue and echoing the BJP’s “appeasement” charge.
The minority appeasement charge by the BJP had hurt the Trinamool in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Assembly elections are now round the corner and expected to be the toughest Mamata Banerjee has faced in the last decade. It doesn’t want today’s events at Ayodhya to tilt the scales.