In a surprise move the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said that it does not approve the raising of slogan Jai Shri Ram at the Victoria Memorial function in Kolkata to mark the 124th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. According to a Hindustan Times report, Jishnu Basu, general secretary of the RSS Bengal unit, said: “The Sangh is unhappy with what happened. Those who raised the slogan neither showed respect to Netaji nor showed respect to Ram. The event was held to pay homage to Netaji. Those who shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ must be identified…the party (Bharatiya Janata Party) must find out who were involved and whether this was an act of sabotage of some sort.”
The report also cited a senior BJP leader, who did not wish to be named: “Some of those who shouted the slogan are known to be close to a senior leader from another state. The Prime Minister’s day-long visit on Netaji’s birthday was meticulously planned in view of the coming polls…The sloganeering punctured all the planning.”
“Being a seasoned politician, she quickly planned her move and put the BJP in an uncomfortable position,” he added.
The damage limitation exercise by the RSS came three days after the event in which chief minister Mamata Banerjee strongly protested the raising of slogans ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and Modi, Modi. She declined to speak and ended with ‘Jai Hind’, ‘Jai Bangla’ chants.
Sensing the mood of the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too started his speech with Jai Hind, Jai Hind, Jai Hind.
Independent political observers are of the view that the RSS’ response came after widespread outrage in West Bengal and elsewhere too. Many people in the state are of the view that the BJP may have to pay the price in the coming Assembly election as Netaji is too dear to the common Bengali masses.