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  1. How Mamata Banerjee’s decision to ban Durga idol immersion on Muharram kicked up a political storm

How Mamata Banerjee’s decision to ban Durga idol immersion on Muharram kicked up a political storm

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday banned Durga idol immersion on October 1 to avoid its clash with Muharram.

By: | Updated: August 24, 2017 11:57 AM
mamata banerjee, mamata banerjee durga puja, mamata banerjee durga idol immersion, mamata banerjee muharaam, west bengal, bjp, politics over puja West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inspects a flood-hit region in Malda district on Monday. (PTI Photo)

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday banned Durga idol immersion on October 1 to avoid its clash with Muharram, which is observed by Muslims. The decision was apparently taken in a bid to ensure communal amity during the upcoming festive season in the state. However, Banerjee’s decision appears to have kicked up a political storm.

“There will be immersions on October 30, as also from October 2-4. Only on October 1, there will be no immersion because of the observation of Muharram. I urge everybody to cooperate with the administration and also with each other so that there was no communal problem,” IANS quoted her as saying after a meeting with organisers of community Durga Puja committees at the Mahajati Sadan.

The West Bengal CM also appealed people not to get swayed by vested interests who may try to disturb communal peace for political interests. “Please don’t fall into the trap laid by the vested interests, who want to promote their political interests by creating communal problems,” said Banerjee.

The state CM has asked top police officials of all districts to talk with Muharram and Durga Puja organisers across the state to pass on her message. Banerjee said her government wouldn’t allow any power to disturb the secular fabric of the state.

This year Dussehra will be celebrated on September 30, while October 1 is the day of Muharram.

Banerjee’s decision has, however, agitated the BJP. The saffron party has said it would move court against the decision. “Last year, she had given similar orders which were challenged in the high court, which had pulled up the state government for giving such arbitrary orders aimed at appeasing the minorities. However, the high court order had come after the festival. We will challenge her decision in the court of law,” BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha told The Indian Express.

Sinha also accused Banerjee of trying to appease minorities by putting restrictions on Hindu festivals. “Hindus here cannot take out Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti processions. Now she has put a restriction on idol immersion. We oppose such a decision,” he told IE.

Last year, Banerjee had imposed similar restrictions. However, communal violence incidents were reported even after the restrictions. Several people were injured in clashes between Hindus and Muslims in North 24 Parganas.

Banerjee’s decision also started a war of words on social media. “She’s done this before. The message in this is unmistakable: Muharram is more important than Durga Puja in Didi’s Bengal,” tweeted author and columnists Samrat X.

Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai asked on Twitter, “Wouldn’t we be a better India if Durga Puja/Muharram procession take place side by side?Cmon @MamataOfficial take lead! India will follow u!”

However, TMC leader Derek O’ Brien replied to Sardesai, saying, “Sitting in La La Lutyens and writing prescriptions for #Kolkata Ask those who live here & you will understand the impracticality, my friend.”

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted, “West Bengal’s CM trying to STOP माँ Durga’s procession. Take My words ..माँ will stop the Political March of Trinamool Congress the same way!”

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