BJP-TMC spar over August 5 lockdown in West Bengal

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Kolkata: West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said Tuesday that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government will have to ‘pay a heavy price’ in the state polls for not budging on its decision to enforce lockdown August 5, despite requests by his party on account of the Ram temple ground-breaking ceremony in Ayodhya. Dilip Ghosh also claimed that the Mamata Banerjee-led government’s stand on the matter reflects its ‘disregard for the sentiments of the Hindu community’.

Rebuffing the allegation, a senior TMC leader said the saffron party should refrain from indulging in communal politics in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ghosh was addressing a protest rally here over the alleged killing of his party’s leaders in the recent past. “We had urged the government to change the date of lockdown from August 5 to any other day. Yesterday, they did make changes to the lockdown schedule, but remained adamant on August 5,” Ghosh said.

“The people of West Bengal are watching everything. They will not hesitate to change the government in the next elections. This arrogance will cost them dearly,” added Ghosh.

The August 5 ceremony will mark the beginning of the construction of Ram temple after a decades-long title suit over the site in Ayodhya.

The Midnapore MP said BJP will not conduct any programme on the occasion, but workers will take part in prayer meets organised by the VHP, and other organisations.

“Tomorrow, in various parts of the state, people will conduct yajna and perform other rituals to mark the ‘bhoomi pujan’ of Ram Mandir. The BJP is officially not conducting any programme, but our party workers will take part in celebrations,” Ghosh told reporters later in the day.

Reacting to Ghosh’s assertions, TMC secretary general and West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said Bengal believes in communal harmony and brotherhood. He asserted that nothing should be done to spoil the social fabric of the state.

“This is not the time to pursue communal politics. The BJP should refrain from indulging in communal politics in the midst of the pandemic. In Bengal, we have always witnessed harmony and brotherhood among all religions and cultures. Nothing should be done to spoil that,” said Chatterjee.

The West Bengal government has for the fourth time has changed the dates for complete lockdown this month owing to local festivals.

The revised dates are August 5 (Wednesday), 8 (Saturday), 20 (Thursday), 21 (Friday), 27 (Thursday), 28 (Friday) and 31 (Monday), according to the government notification issued Monday.