Bengal agriculture minister Ashis Banerjee first pulled the rope of a chariot at the Tarapith Rath Yatra on Thursday with the temple committee managing to convince the BJP not to turn the annual festival into an occasion for political controversy.
Raju Banerjee, a state general-secretary of the BJP who had been invited by a section of priests to inaugurate the yatra, reached the venue half an hour after the minister had left the place.
Sources said the Tarapith temple committee had held several meetings with the BJP-leaning priests and requested them to allow the minister to pull the rope first.
“The committee had initially decided to allow both Ashis and Raju to join the inauguration, but the minister would pull the rope first. However, a section of Trinamul leaders opposed it and said Ashisda has been inaugurating the fest since 2011 and it would not be appropriate for him to do it in the presence of a BJP leader,” a member on the committee said.
Committee president Taramoy Mukherjee said: “Finally, we convinced the BJP-leaning priests that the temple and the Rath Yatra shouldn’t become the centre of a political controversy. They agreed.”