Flashing a Hindu card once again ahead of the April-May Lok Sabha elections, West Bengal chief minister and the Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah to hold a competition with her on puja mantras.
Addressing a gathering on Tuesday she said “Puja does not only mean sporting a tilak”.
Her statement seems to be an oblique reference to the imagery of the two BJP stalwarts from the recently concluded Maha Kumbh in Prayagraj and from the launch of Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor in Varanasi. Both Modi and Shah were captured while performing pujas and sporting religious symbols including tilak on these occasions.
She mocked the Modi government for not building Ram Temple, and claimed her government in West Bengal has constructed a beautiful temple in Ganga Sagar.
“They say Mamata Didi doesn’t let people to do Puja here. Are you (Mod and Shah) doing it? Puja is not done just by sporting tilak. If there is a competition on puja mantras… Modi Babu and Amit Babu, come, let us see who knows more Sanskrit mantras,” she challenged.
Mamata Banerjee was criticised for routinely imposing restrictions on celebrations of Durga Puja, the most important Hindu festival in West Bengal. But ahead of the festival in 2018, she announced a grant of Rs 10,000 each to about 28,000 puja communities spread across the state. The move was interpreted as an attempt to dent the charges of “Muslim appeasement” against her.