West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday refused to come on stage during the inauguration of the Vande Bharat Express at the Howrah railway station after supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party shouted “Jai Shri Ram” slogans.
Angered by the loud sloganeering, the Trinamool Congress chief remained seated on a chair in the audience instead. Attempts by Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnav and West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose to pacify Banerjee were not successful in persuading her.
Banerjee also thought about leaving the venue and complained about the “Jai Shri Ram” slogans to the governor.
This comes two years after the West Bengal chief minister refused to speak at a government event in Kolkata attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Hindutva slogan was raised.
In 2019, Banerjee wrote a Facebook post, “Jai Sia Ram, Jai Ramji ki, Ram Naam Satya Hai etc have religious and social connotations. We respect these sentiments. But the BJP is using religious slogan ‘Jai Sri Ram’ as its party slogan in a misconceived manner by way of mixing religion with politics. We do not respect this forcible enforcement of political slogans on others in the name of so-called RSS which Bengal has never accepted.”
West Bengal’s first Vande Bharat Express, connecting Howrah and New Jalpaiguri, was virtually inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.