Published By: Sheen Kachroo
Last Updated: October 14, 2023, 21:24 IST
In a jibe at the BJP, senior Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee on Saturday said that those who had once claimed that Durga Puja festivities were not allowed in West Bengal are now rushing to the state to inaugurate pandals.
Banerjee, who was speaking at the launch of the special autumnal edition of TMC’s mouthpiece ‘Jago Bangla’ here, was referring to the news of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s likely visit to West Bengal to inaugurate the renowned Santosh Mitra Square Durga Puja in central Kolkata on October 16, five days before the start of the festival.
The crowd-puller puja known for its innovative marquees is patronised by BJP leader and Kolkata Municipal Corporation councillor Sajal Bose.
“Those who had once attacked the ethos and culture of West Bengal, alleging that permission was not given to hold Durga Puja festivities, are now coming to the state to inaugurate pandals,” Banerjee, the TMC national general secretary, said.
Describing Durga Puja as a festival in which people irrespective of religion, caste and language participate, he wished everyone, “irrespective of political identities”, on the occasion.
In 2017, the Mamata Banerjee government had initially restricted idol immersion till 10 pm on September 30, the day of Vijaya Dashami. Idol immersion was prohibited the next day, when it was Muharram.
The state government’s decision was viewed by the BJP and others as an infringement upon the fundamental right to practice religion, and three petitions were filed before the Calcutta High Court challenging the decision.
The high court had revoked the state government’s decision and stated that the administration cannot interfere into the faith of the people and should treat everyone equally.
“People have the right to practice their religious activities, whichever community they may be of, and the state cannot put restrictions, unless it has a concrete ground to believe that two communities cannot live together,” the court had stated.
Two years later, in 2019, Shah, while inaugurating the BJ Block Durga Puja in Salt Lake area on the eastern fringes of Kolkata, had recalled the controversial decision and stated, “There was a time when people had to move the high court for Durga idol immersion.” Shah’s comment had invited barbs from the TMC, which had then accused him of not knowing the “real situation about how universal Durga Puja celebrations are in West Bengal”.
During Saturday’s function, Abhishek Banerjee also underlined the UNESCO intangible heritage tag bestowed upon West Bengal’s Durga Puja in 2021, and said, “The West Bengal government’s efforts finally bore fruit and this honour must be apportioned by every resident of the state.”
The young Diamond Harbour MP said that after the Mamata Banerjee government came to power in West Bengal, people’s participation in the Durga Puja festivities is not confined to only four days – Saptami to Dashami – but has been extended by a few more days.
Reacting to the TMC MP’s statement, BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “Those who had one time not allowed Durga Puja immersion on the scheduled day of Dashami and those who have now made the farce of preponing the festivities by a week to even before Devi Paksha are now making tall claims.”
“The TMC is not the custodian of Durga Puja in West Bengal and it cannot comment on who will attend the inauguration ceremony and who will not,” he added.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)