Confirming that rallies with the tradition of carrying arms would be taken out in certain parts of West Bengal on Ram Navmi this year, state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh on Friday said his party is planning to celebrate the occasion in a bigger and much more grandiose manner compared to the last time.
Taking a dig at the ruling Trinamool Congress, Ghosh said the people who have so far opposed the celebrations are now eager to observe Ram Navmi to gain the support of the majority of the people.
"This year Ram Navmi celebration would be bigger and more grand compared to last year. In Kolkata alone there would be five or six major rallies. Along with the prominent cities and district headquarters, rallies would be taken out in villages with equal vigour," Ghosh told IANS over phone.
"Now there is competition as the Trinamool has jumped into celebrating the occasion this year. Ram Navmi, that wasn't popular in Bengal not so long ago, is going to become one of the biggest festivals here," he said.
The state BJP chief, who will himself take part in a rally in West Midnapore district's Kharagpur, confirmed that there would be some rallies with "traditional Hindu weapons" but did not reveal their location and numbers.
"There would be rallies both with arms and without arms. It would be decided by the local party leadership and the organisations concerned who would hold the rallies. If the administration tries to forcibly stop the rallies, clashes may occur," he warned.
Ghosh's comments came on a day when the BJP's local unit brought out preparatory rallies for Ram Navmi in West Midnapore where a person was seen brandishing a sword while another rally by the Hindu Jagran Manch in Birbhum district's Suri saw people carrying tridents while chanting the name of Lord Ram.
A few days ago, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee eased the blanket ban on carrying weapons in public, stating that organisations celebrating Ram Navmi for more than a decade would be given special permission to carry arms.
Stating that the idea of carrying arms is evoked from centuries old religious beliefs, Ghosh claimed that Banerjee eased the blanket ban for her political benefit as she understood that her government's directive would displease a lot of people.
"I think she did this because she clearly understood that people are not bothered about her government's ban. These are age-old traditions and had been going on long before this government came to power. They have no right to impose a ban on people's religious beliefs and practices.
"She is trying to bring people close to her by partially lifting the ban," he said.