KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: Competitive politics hit peace and the people in West Bengal as the Trinamool Congress vied with the Hindutva organisations to hold massive rallies to celebrate Ram Navami on Sunday.

The BJP did not directly organise the rallies, but participated in the events being managed by its front organisations brandishing swords and arms. The TMC that had objected earlier decided to withdraw its objections and instead attempt to hijack the celebrations as it were with the state police unable to take action as a result. After the ‘celebrations’ claimed the life of one person and injured several others, including police personnel, the BJP welcomed the TMC into the Hindu fold, congratulating the people for making the ruling party see reason. And claimed it as a victory for the “Hindus.”

Interestingly, locals are giving credit to TMC MLA Arjun Singh for the shift in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s stand, from opposing to organising the rallies. Singh, a recognised strongman of 24 Parganas wanted in various cases, took out a massive rally. Sources claimed that the Hindutva groups joined this rally, but soon arguments developed within. By the time the procession reached the Muslim areas the anger had erupted, and the rallyists indulged in wide scale loot and arson. CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim told The Citizen that Singh had links with the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, and was with the TMC in West Bengal.

In the process Sheikh Shahjahan, 55, of Purulia’s Bhursa village was killed when he was attacked by a mob while he was relieving himself near the village pond on Sunday. ADG (law and order) Anuj Sharma told reporters later that four policemen, including DSP (headquarters) Subrata Kumar Pal, were injured when they tried to intervene. Pal and his security guard are both in a serious condition.

Arms made an appearance in the rallies organised by the Hindutva brigade, with senior BJP leaders seen brandishing swords and firearms. This comes after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comments about the organisation having the capacity to raise an army within three days. The processions with fire arms were to strike fear along the route with the state BJP president Dilip Ghosh carrying a sword, and other leaders too seen with weapons. Ghosh had said that the processions celebrating the religious festival would be armed with what he had described as “traditional Hindu weapons”. BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha, according to the local media, was also carrying a weapon.

Interestingly, even while TMC was applauding itself for stealing the show, the BJP has come out to welcome its participation. Sinha said that the magnitude of the celebration marks the victory of the Hindutva agenda. And in the process he welcomed the rallies taken out by the TMC in different parts of the state.

"This is a big victory for the BJP and its Hindutva agenda. It is important that Trinamool Congress leaders had to bow down their heads to the Hindu population in the state. We welcome this. This is a victory for Lord Rama and Rama Navami," Sinha, who had participated in a rally in Hoogly district's Chinsurah, told IANS.

The local BJP leaders linked the celebrations with the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. State party president Dilip Ghosh was categorical that the huge participation showed that the country was moving towards Ram Rajya. “It seems we are approaching towards Ram Rajya. Those who did not want it, are also wanting it now. I am sure Ram Mandir would also be built in Ayodhya," he said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee used the social media to greet the people.

Her Minister of Biotechnology and Statistics Ashish Banerjee took out a colourful procession with dancers dressed as Ram and Sita in Birbhum district's Rampurhat.