West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, during the 124th birth anniversary event of freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in Kolkata, lost her cool after she was interrupted with chants of “Jai Shree Ram” when she was going to deliver her speech.
During the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar were present on the stage.
“Don’t insult me after calling me here. This is not a political programme. If you invite someone to a government programme, you should not insult them,” a visibly upset Ms Banerjee admonished the crowd before cutting short her speech.
Before Banerjee even spoke, the crowd started shouting and chanted “Jai Shree Ram”, forcing the organizers to repeatedly call for calm. When she finally got to speak, she blasted the crowd and urged them to maintain dignity. She then thanked Prime Minister Modi for attending the event and walked off stage.
The chanting that greeted Ms Banerjee this evening were a sobering reminder of the vicious (and often violent) election rhetoric that has dominated Bengal politics since the 2019 Lok Sabha election – when the “Jai Shri Ram” chant was unleashed. BJP supporters routinely taunted TMC leaders, including Banerjee.
Last year, Banerjee said she respects slogans of Lord Ram, but had a problem with the BJP using them in a “misconceived manner by way of mixing religion with politics”.
“This is a deliberate attempt to sell hatred ideology through vandalism and violence, which we must oppose together. One can fool some people sometimes, but cannot fool all the people all the time,” a Facebook post by the Chief Minister read.
In the past few weeks, the BJP and TMC have been relentlessly attacking each other, just months ahead of the Bengal Assembly elections.