West Bengal celebrates Ram Navami; TMC, BJP make most use of it to reach out to voters

Kolkata: Ram Navami was celebrated across West Bengal on Wednesday amid heavy security deployment, and barring a blast in Murshidabad that injured one person, it passed off peacefully with leaders of both TMC and BJP taking part in the festivities with an eye on the Lok Sabha polls.

A blast happened near a procession in Murshidabad’s Shaktipur area, injuring a woman, police said.

She was admitted to the Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital, they said, adding that it was not immediately clear if it was a bomb blast or the explosion happened due to other reasons.

In the Rejinagar area of the district, the BJP alleged that stones were thrown at a Ram Navami procession.

“It was the duty of the state police to maintain law and order. We urge the Election Commission to take stern action against the police officers there,” said BJP state general secretary Jagannath Chattopadhyay, commenting on the incident.

Police, however, did not make any statement on the incident.

The TMC accused the BJP of triggering tensions ahead of the elections.

“The BJP is trying to orchestrate riots ahead of the elections. We condemn such incidents of violence, which is the handiwork of the BJP,” said TMC leader Shantanu Sen.

The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) had planned more than 5,000 programmes across the state on the occasion.

“Hindu unity transcends politics, it’s about faith in Lord Ram,” said VHP’s national assistant secretary Sachindranath Singha.

Leaders of the TMC and BJP made best use of the occasion to reach out to voters ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee greeted the people of the state on the occasion.

“Greetings to all on the auspicious occasion of Ram Navami. I appeal to maintain peace, prosperity, and development for all,” she posted on X.

Leader of the opposition Suvendu Adhikari took part in a Ram Navami procession in New Town near Kolkata and Uluberia in Howrah.

State minister Arup Roy and TMC candidate Prasun Banerjee participated in a similar procession in Howrah town.

In Barrackpore, BJP candidate Arjun Singh led a mega Ram Navami procession.

Similar processions, echoing chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ amid frenzied beating of drums, were witnessed in Bankura, Purulia, Durgapur, Asansol, and Barasat.

Despite the administration’s ban, participants of Ram Navami processions in Howrah and Durgapur brandished traditional arms.

BJP’s Howrah nominee Rathin Chakraborty and Bardhaman-Durgapur candidate Dilip Ghosh said it was part of the rituals.

TMC’s Jadavpur candidate Sayaani Ghosh led a Ram Navami rally in the constituency.

“We believe in peaceful in worshipping, we don’t believe in flaunting muscle power,” she said.

TMC’s Birbhum MP Satabdi Roy, who is seeking re-election, also led a Ram Navami rally in her constituency.

Meanwhile, the state-run Jadavpur University withdrew permission it gave to the RSS-affiliated ABVP to celebrate Ram Navami on the campus amid protests by Left-backed student organisations.

CPI(M) leader Tanmay Bhattacharya accused both BJP and TMC of resorting to “competitive communalism”, calling it dangerous for the state.

He said that Ram Navami was never celebrated in such a grand manner in the state even a few years back.

Ram Navami celebrations gained momentum after 2016, coinciding with the BJP’s rise in the state. The celebrations have been marred by communal violence in 2017, 2018 and 2023.