PM Modi targets Mamata Banerjee for accusing ISCKON, RKM monks of supporting BJP | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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PM Modi targets Mamata Banerjee for accusing ISCKON, RKM monks of supporting BJP

May 19, 2024 09:49 PM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is bad-mouthing great organisations and maligning them under pressure from hardcore Muslim outfits to secure votes

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accused West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress founder Mamata Banerjee of “badmouthing” and “threatening” ISKCON, Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Sangha to protect Muslims and infiltrators, calling the latter TMC’s vote bank.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a campaign rally for Lok Sabha polls at Kharagpur in West Midnapur on Sunday. (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a campaign rally for Lok Sabha polls at Kharagpur in West Midnapur on Sunday. (PTI)

“I am directly alleging that the chief minister is bad-mouthing our great organisations and maligning them under pressure from hardcore Muslim outfits to secure votes. TMC is insulting Bengal’s heritage and culture. They repeatedly use vulgar words against Ram Mandir (in Ayodhya). Won’t you reply to TMC’s appeasement politics with your votes,” Modi told voters at the day’s second campaign rally the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held in Bankura district, where BJP won both seats in 2019.

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“The TMC government has crossed all limits in intimidation. ISKCON, Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevasharam Sangha are known across the world for their service to the people. But the Bengal chief minister is threatening them from public platform,” Modi said at his first rally at Purulia district’s Purulia seat which BJP won in 2019.

At his last rally in Midnapore, Modi sharpened his attack saying “infiltrators pose a big threat to Bengal.”

“They are disturbing the balance in population. Hindus have become a minority in many areas. Infiltrators are capturing lands of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe people. Safety of our sisters and daughters are in danger,” he said.

On Saturday, while addressing voters in Hooghly district where two seats go to polls on Monday, Banerjee accused a section of monks from the three organisations of asking voters to support BJP.

“I have great respect for monks but not all of them are same. Bharat Sevashram Sangha has a unit in Berhampore (a Lok Sabha seat). I have heard about a Maharaj (monk) for a long time. His name is Kartick Maharaj. He said he will not allow any TMC election agent in polling booths. I do not consider him a monk because he is directly involved in politics. He is ruining the country. I have great respect for Bharat Sevashram Sangha,” Banerjee said at the rally.

Referring to the Ramakrishna Mission founded by Swami Vivekananda, Banerjee said: “Instructions come from Delhi saying people should be told to vote for BJP. I know Ramakrishna Mission monks don’t cast votes. Then why should they do these things? There is a Ramakrishna Mission in Asansol. Have you forgotten how I helped you? Vivekananda’s home (in Kolkata) wouldn’t be there had this daughter not been around. The Left Front stopped your activities. Do you remember?” Banerjee said.

“We have given 700 acres to ISKCON to build its new temple (in Nadia district),” Banerjee added.

Till Sunday evening, Ramakrishna Mission did not make any comment on the statements Banerjee and Modi made on two consecutive days but the Sangha and ISKCON reacted.

Talking to HT, the Sangha’s Kartick Maharaj (whose ascetic name is Swami Pradiptananda) said: “I never made the statements Banerjee has accused me of uttering. I am ready to face any punishment if she can prove her allegation. But what will she do if she fails? We are contemplating legal action. Meanwhile, protests have started against her comments in several districts.”

Swami Biswatmananda, general secretary of the Sangha, said: “We are above politics. It really doesn’t make any difference if a political party says good or bad things about us.”

Talking to local news channels, Gauranga Das from ISKCON said, “Nobody has given authority to any political party to make such comments against organisations like ours.”

On Sunday, Modi sharpened his attack on Banerjee at his last rally in Midnapore constituency that BJP’s former state president Dilip Ghosh won in 2019. The seat is being contested this time my BJP legislator Agnimitra Paul.

“TMC’s appeasement politics has destroyed the fabric of Bengal. It calls genuine refugees ‘outsiders’ but considers infiltrators their own. Infiltrators pose a big threat to Bengal. They are disturbing the balance in population. Hindus have become a minority in many areas. Infiltrators are capturing lands of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe people. Safety of our sisters and daughters are in danger,” said Modi.

“Who makes fake ration cards and Aadhar cards for infiltrators? Refugees are not a vote bank for TMC. Places where the number of infiltrators has gone up are considered safe seats for TMC. TMC is playing a lethal game by endangering Bengal’s identity. Bengal’s law and order system has been ruined. Business, trade, and employment opportunities are ruined. People are being forced to go to other states for jobs. A strong BJP government at the Centre is necessary to stop TMC’s conspiracies,” Modi said.

Referring to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) enforced in March, Modi said: “I promised I would grant citizenship to the refugee families. This nation had been expecting this from us since Independence. These people are SC and ST communities, but TMC is opposing CAA. Let TMC, Congress and Left note this down today. You won’t be able to do anything as long as Modi is alive.”

While ISKCON is purely an international spiritual organisation, Bharat Sevashram Sangha and Ramakrishna Mission are known across the globe more for their welfare activities, especially relief work during natural calamities. Ramakrishna Mission also runs numerous schools, of which several have been producing toppers in Bengal board examinations.

TMC spokesperson Santanu Sen defended Banerjee after Modi delivered his speeches.

“A section of monks are actively campaigning for BJP. A monk from the Sangha was seen on the dais at Modi’s meeting in Bankura today,” he said.

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