POLITICS

Mohan Bhagwat's Upcoming Trip To Kolkata Is Giving The Bengal Government Sleepless Nights

The RSS has also planned a three-day meet in West Bengal during Christmas.

18/12/2016 4:46 PM IST | Updated 18/12/2016 5:37 PM IST
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A three-day meet of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) throughout West Bengal during Christmas, and the visit of the organisation's chief Mohan Bhagwat in January, is giving the Mamata Banerjee administration sleepless nights.

Bhagwat will address a public meeting in Kolkata, and take several organisational meetings in the city in January 2017. Bidyut Mukherjee, in charge of RSS's south Bengal units, confirmed that Bhagwat will be in Kolkata on January 14 to address a public meeting. It is learnt that Bhagwat will also be conducting some internal meetings with Sangh pracharaks and BJP leaders. However, Mukherjee did not want to comment on the RSS's meetings around Christmas, saying these were "small, internal meetings" that are "routine" and held many times during a year.

Bhagwat will address a public meeting in Kolkata, and take several organisational meetings in the city in January 2017. Bidyut Mukherjee, in charge of RSS's south Bengal units, confirmed that Bhagwat will be in Kolkata on January 14 to address a public meeting. It is learnt that Bhagwat will also be conducting some internal meetings with Sangh pracharaks and BJP leaders. However, Mukherjee did not want to comment on the RSS's meetings around Christmas, saying these were "small, internal meetings" that are "routine" and held many times during a year.

However, the state administration is being especially cautious about the three-day RSS meet because of the timing. In April 2015, the Bengal government had banned the Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Praveen Togadia from entering the state. This was because in January that year, Togadia had addressed a rally in Bengal's Birbhum district where the VHP had held a "suddhikaran" ceremony in which some Christians and Muslims were alleged to have been "reconverted" to Hinduism. An FIR was later lodged against him for inflammatory speech.

In recent times, there have been several clashes between different religious groups in various parts of Bengal, and the administration is having a tough time handling such situations. Under the circumstances, the government is jittery about both Bhagwat's visit and the upcoming RSS shivirs scheduled during Christmas.

This is what a press release (of October 2016) of the RSS mentions on its website, "The RSS strongly condemns the recent spate of brutal communal violence by radical jehadi elements and the inaction of the ruling establishments in the states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka and demands urgent action against the perpetrators of this violence and maintain vigil against such radical elements."

It adds that "In West Bengal, after the recent state elections, the communal violence against Hindus has seen menacing rise which has claimed many lives and many more seriously wounded till now... The law enforcement machinery remained only a mute spectator in such incidents even refusing to register FIRs..."

All this is in the public domain. The administration is jittery because Bhagwat's public meetings may mention such episodes that the police had a tough time handling.

Christmas is celebrated with great fervour in many parts of Bengal, even outside Kolkata. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated a two-week long Christmas programme on December 16 in Kolkata which involves live music, food stalls on Kolkata's Park Street, along with tours organised by the state tourism department to various churches in and outside Kolkata.

With the RSS meet scheduled around the same time throughout the state, the government is naturally becoming more cautious. And Bhagwat's visit in January, in the backdrop of the recent clashes in some districts of south Bengal, has just added to their nervous jitters.

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