Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday supported the contents of the open letter written by 49 eminent civil society members to the Prime Minister, terming it a “genuine expression” by “very credible people”.
Responding to questions outside Nazrul Mancha following a cultural event in the evening, Mamata said: “They have done the right thing by writing the letter. They have made a genuine attempt, as is their right. Civil society has always stood up whenever the nation is in peril…. And often, a song can do much more than a speech.”
“I am not one to discredit any type of slogan or faith. I have been raised to respect my brothers and sisters from all faiths,” she added.
In the open letter, the signatories have demanded that lynching be made a non-bailable offence and pointed to the alleged “weaponisation” of the Jai Shri Ram slogan into a “war cry”.
In the past few months, the chant has been turned into a taunt in Bengal to target Mamata after the chief minister lost her cool in public on a few occasions when confronted with cries of “Jai Shri Ram”.
Asked to comment on allegations by BJP leaders that the civil society group, which includes actress Aparna Sen and filmmakers Mani Ratnam and Shyam Benegal, was being funded by foreign concerns, Mamata said she didn’t believe such claims.
“People like Aparna Sen and Mani Ratnam, in our country, are like the Himalayas. You cannot question their credibility anyway. Everybody has the right to speak out. I maintain that this nation of ours is for everybody, that is how I was raised,” Mamata said.