by - 12:07

Mamata Banerjee draws the line between Hinduism and BJP's Hindutva
PURI: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee used the precincts of Puri's Jagannath Temple on Wednesday to pit her "inclusive" Hinduism against BJP's "disruptive" Hindutva.

"I'm a Hindu but not the one who defames religion. While the Hindu belief talks about the ideology of moving forward and taking everyone along, the saffron party is acting against the ideology and defaming Hindutva," the chief minister said. Mamata's unusually sharp pitch was indicative of the changing political scenario back home, where the BJP is increasingly being seen as the main challenger to the Trinamool hegemony.

"They (BJP) wanted to divide the nation in the name of religion, region and caste. They pit Hindus against Muslims, Christians against Hindus, Odiyas against Bengalis, Biharis against Bengalis, and so on ... This is not Hinduism," she said, adding that the BJP members were a "black spot" on Hinduism because they divide people instead of taking everyone along.

"We do not need to take lessons on Hinduism from them.Hinduism is universal and it teaches us religious tolerance.Hindu religion is not the monopoly of the so-called Hindus. We are proud of the Hindu religion and of all religions as well. We believe in mutual respect of each other, which is the basic tenet of the human world. We believe in secularism and democratic traditions," the CM said, unfazed that a section of priests at the Jagannath mandir had decided to oppose her visit over her alleged remarks supporting the consumption of beef. Though not a single priest opposed her visit to the shrine on Wednesday , some BJP youth wing members raised slogans against her and were promptly detained. Before visiting the temple CM Mamata Banerjee ac cused the BJP of trying to politicise her statement in a recent television interview. "I had told the channel that people have the choice to eat what they want, but BJP politicised the issue," she said. She also accused the ruling party at the Centre and its religious affiliates under their real or fictitious names of "distorting" her views and opinions and misleading people with her photos through fake accounts. "I strongly condemn such scandalous activities by the so-called Hindu zealots. These communal forces, with their political vendetta, are maligning people," she said.

The chief minister reached the temple amid tight security at 5.45 pm and spent 25 minutes inside. She offered prayers in the main temple as well as subshrines in the temple complex with the help of priest Jagannath Swain Mohapatra, the chief servitor or Daitapati.

"We earlier detained four priests. Some youths tried to oppose her entry into the temple. We whisked them away. They were detained," SP (Puri) Sarthak Sarangi told TOI.

While moving inside the temple, Mamata spent five minutes with a sankirtan troupe and listened to their religious songs. She also sought the blessings of Brahmin scholars at Mukti Mandap and paid obeisance at the sub-shrines, said Swain Mohapatra. She also spoke to the servitors.

Swain Mohapatra said Mamata caught a glimpse of the deities from a distance as the sanctum sanctorum is out of bounds for devotees in view of repair work of Jagamohan. She begged apology from a diya vendor after her leg accidentally touched his diyas. She also saw ASI's conservation work of Jagamohan. Her visit to the shrine did not cause inconvenience to other devotees, another priest said.

But police denied permission to the CM to visit Swain Mohapatra's house. "She wanted to visit his house following his request. As it is in a narrow street, it was deemed a security hazard. We advised her to meet him at the Circuit House," another police officer said.
(With PTI inputs)

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