Facing flak over her call for ‘jihad’ against the Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday clarified her statement and said that ‘jihad’ only meant “strong protests ” in Bengali. Addressing a rally in Asansol on June 28, the Trinamool Congress supremo told her party workers, “On July 21, we will launch a ‘jihad’ against the BJP.” Incidentally, the TMC party observes July 21 as ‘Shahid Diwas’ or Martyr’s Day.
Speaking during an interaction at a media conclave on Monday, Banerjee clarified that ‘jihad’ meant strong protest in local dialect. She said, “There are some local languages. Sometimes, Hindi and Urdu become one language. Marathi and Gujarati are similar, likewise, Bengali and Assamese languages have a lot of similarities. I understand Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi… on our side, in our local language, we said that in protest against the BJP. ‘Jihad’ in our local language means strong protest.”
Banerjee’s call for ‘jihad’ has raked up a political storm in Bengal with the Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari stating that the CM’s remarks have only revealed her “jihadi” mentality.
“This is part of her vote bank politics. She has encouraged Islamist and terror outfits to set up their bases in Bengal and has now given the call for jihad against the BJP,” Adhikari said.
The remarks also drew a sharp reaction from Governor Jagdeep Dhankar who said he has written to the Bengal CM to withdraw her “unconstitutional declaration” which he said was “authoritarian and undemocratic,” a day after those remarks were made.
“The statement, revealed in the video, is most unfortunate and indicates constitutional anarchy. It defies logic and reason as to how one under the oath of Constitution and holding the position of chief minister could make such pernicious declaration of ‘jihad’ against a political party,” Dhankhar wrote in his letter, while referring to a video where Banerjee is seen making the remarks against the BJP.
“I cannot but take the strongest possible exception to your statement. To observe democratic values and constitutionalism, you are urged to forthwith withdraw this most unconstitutional declaration of ‘jihad’ against the BJP on July 21, 2022,” Dhankhar’s letter further read.