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regular-article-logo Sunday, 23 June 2024

Didi sticks to her guns on monk: Kartik Maharaj sends legal notice to CM Mamata Banerjee

'Kartik Maharaj… the person who says, ‘I will not allow Trinamool Congress agents to sit’, I do not consider that man to be a monk'

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya, Pranesh Sarkar Calcutta Published 21.05.24, 07:28 AM
Mamata Banerjee during election campaign at Nikunjpur in Bankura on Monday.

Mamata Banerjee during election campaign at Nikunjpur in Bankura on Monday. PTI

Mamata Banerjee on Monday clarified that she was not against any Hindu spiritual-philanthropic organisations but had a problem with one or two individuals therein, one of whom she accused of fomenting communal disturbance and being biased for the BJP.

Earlier on Monday, Kartik Maharaj — secretary of the Bharat Sevashram Sangha’s ashram in Murshidabad’s Aurangabad — sent the chief minister a legal notice accusing her of defamation over remarks she had made on Saturday.

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Sticking to her guns, Mamata told an election rally at Bishnupur in Bankura district: “I am not against (an organisation). How could I be against an institution or disrespect them? Even a few days ago, when (a senior monk) was unwell, I called on him. I only spoke about one or two people.”

The Trinamul chief said the rally was planned at the eleventh hour so that she could counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vitriolic speech delivered at Bishnupur on Sunday.

“The Bharat Sevashram Sangha has its ashram in Gangasagar. We share good relations with them, they love me a lot, and I appreciate all their work for the people,” said the chief minister. “I took the name of one person, this man called Kartik Maharaj.”

On Saturday, at a rally in Arambagh, Mamata had said: “Some monks of the… are working under the influence of Delhi’s BJP leaders. Those who look after temples are doing laudable spiritual, philanthropic work… not everybody is involved in such activities.”

“Kartik Maharaj… the person who says, ‘I will not allow Trinamool Congress agents to sit’, I do not consider that man to be a monk. Because through direct politics, he is ruining the nation.”

On Monday, the monk’s lawyer sent the chief minister a notice, demanding an apology for her “defamatory” remarks.

“The innuendo/insinuations and imputation made by you against my client are slanderous and defamatory in nature and has been deliberately done to lower the reputation of my client and his organisation,” it read.

At Bishnupur, Mamata said: “Kartik Maharaj… he was also responsible for the communal violence that took place in Rejinagar days before the polls. That is what I had flagged.”

“He was earlier associated with (state Congress chief) Adhir (Ranjan Chowdhury) and is now with the BJP,” added the chief minister.

Mamata repeatedly said she had nothing but respect for the organisation he represents and its ashram in Murshidabad’s Aurangabad.

“But when I asked why that area had no Trinamool agents, I was told that Kartik Maharaj said he wouldn’t allow Trinamool agents to even sit there,” said Mamata.

“I keep myself informed…. He has been endorsing the BJP in the name of religion in various places. I don’t have an issue with him engaging in political activities for the BJP, but he should wear the BJP’s symbol on his chest and do so… not from behind the curtains, this way,” she added. “I do not speak without evidence…. Should I spare such people, those who foment communal tension?”

Her Arambagh comments had prompted caustic criticism from Modi at Bishnupur on Sunday.

On Monday at Jhargram, Modi attacked her yet again on the issue,

“In Bengal, the TMC is responsible for attacking your faith. TMC leaders deem the Ram Mandir unholy and the government halts Ram Navami celebrations.... The chief minister herself threatens Hindu monks," said Modi.

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