A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that there was a time when people had to knock on the High Court doors to immerse Durga idols as “the constitutional right to celebrate festivals was not guaranteed to them”, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the Puja festival was not only for Hindus but for people belonging to all religions. Speaking at Suruchi Sangha in south Kolkata Wednesday, Banerjee spoke in favour of communal harmony.
“Durga puja is the biggest festival in the world. It is not only for Hindus but also for Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Jains. We have to take everyone along with us,” she said.
Pointing at State Urban Development Minister and senior TMC leader Firhad Hakim, who was present on a dais, Banerjee said, “Look at Firhad Hakim. He is a Muslim but he also organises Durga puja at Chetla Agrani Club. Can we say that he cannot do that as he is a Muslim? Can we divide people like this? A festival is for all.”
The CM added, “Some people claim they are saccha Hindustanis (true Indians). But one cannot claim to be that if he cannot take people of all castes and creed along with him. A saccha Hindustani should be one who knows how to be with all and take pride in it. Humanity is the ultimate religion and all religion talks about being compassionate to people,” she added.
Earlier in the day, she inaugurated several Durga pujas in Kolkata.
On Tuesday, after inaugurating the Durga Puja at BJ Block in Salt Lake, Shah, who is also BJP’s national president, said, “Earlier, there was a situation when one had to take permission from the High Court to immerse Durga idols in river. The constitutional right of the people to celebrate festivals was not guaranteed in Bengal due to vote bank politics. Today people do not need to go to the court. People have given us a huge mandate after we won 18 (Lok Sabha) seats from Bengal. If you continue to give us your support, then no one will ever have to take permission to perform Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja in Bengal.”
Shah was referring to the restrictions imposed by the state government on Durga idol immersion on the day of Vijayadashami after 10 pm in 2017. It had also said no immersion would be allowed on the day of Muharram. However, the Calcutta High Court allowed immersion of idols on all days from Vijayadashami, including on Muharram.