Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said today that she will visit the Kalighat temple on January 22, the day the Ayodhya Ram temple will be consecrated.
“You all keep asking me about various temples. I have nothing to say about it. I say religion is a personal issue, festivals are for everyone. We celebrate January 23, January 26. On January 22, we will hold a rally,” she said.
After offering puja at Kalighat, one of the biggest pilgrim centres of eastern India, she will hold a rally on behalf of her Trinamool Congress party, the Chief Minister said.
The “Sarba Dharm (all religion) rally” will include people from all communities and will touch various religious places — temples, churches, Gurudwaras and mosques on its route.
The rally will end at south Kolkata’s Park Circus Maidan, where a public meeting will be held.
That day, Trinamool will also hold block-wise rallies across Bengal with a “Sampriti (Affection)” theme, Ms Banerjee said. All religions are equal and people from all religions and communities will be present in the rally, her party has said.
Ms Banerjee, who was among the Opposition leaders who are planning to stay away from the Ayodhya Ram temple consecration, has declined, calling it a “political gimmick”.
Asked about the matter, she said, “I believe in a festival which takes everyone together, talks about everyone… Do whatever you want, you are doing a gimmick before the elections, do it, I have no problem but disregarding people of other communities is not right… I will never allow discrimination between Hindus and Muslims as long as I live”.
Her refusal landed her in a BJP poster alongside Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Chowdhury, CPM’s Sitaram Yechuri and Samajwadi Party chef Akhilesh Yadav – leaders who have refused to attend the consecration ceremony. The BJP, which earlier accuse them of appeasement, has now dubbed them “anti-Hindu”.
The poster, posted on X by the BJP, ran with a caption that read, “Note the faces of the Sanatan opponents who rejected the invitation for the Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha ceremony…”.