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At Bengal rally, UP CM Adityanath raises bogey of 'Love Jihad'

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Speaking at Malda district’s Gazole, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath on Tuesday, March 2, recited the Bharatiya Janata Party’s communal catchphrases of “minority appeasement” and “love jihad” in his offensive against the Trinamool Congress state government.

Malda is one of the three districts in Bengal where Muslims form a little more than half of the population.

In the state as part of the BJP’s campaign ahead of the West Bengal election, Adityanath made several claims, including that incidents of “love jihad” had been happening in the state, unchecked by the TMC government.

Under Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh has brought a controversial law that focuses ostensibly on criminalising forcible religious conversions but in reality gives legal credence to the Hindutva rightwing’s bogey of ‘love jihad‘ – an imagined conspiracy by Muslim men to convert Hindu women by marriage. The Union home ministry and the Uttar Pradesh police have both been unable to offer concrete evidence of ‘love jihad’. In several situations, the new law has been used to harass couples and Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, with fatal consequences.

Adityanath also spoke on safety and security of women.

Among other claims made by Adityanath was that the biggest festival of the state, the Durga Puja, is “prohibited” when it coincides with Muharram.

“Durga Puja gets prohibited in Bengal today, cow slaughter is forcefully started during Eid…The state government remains silent on all of this. It is now attempting to ban the slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram‘,” ANI quoted Adityanath as having said.

‘Jai Shri Ram’ is used by the BJP as a rallying cry in the run up to the polls in Bengal. On January 23, 2021, at a Central government function on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had refused to speak when supporters of BJP had chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ as she took the lectern.

“India’s people cannot do anything without taking the name of ‘Ram’,” Adityanath said, adding, “People who are against Ram have nothing to do in Bengal.”

Adityanath also repeated the BJP’s common claim that the Mamata Banerjee government is keen on furthering “appeasement politics“.

“Appeasement politics for the sake of vote bank has endangered the security of not only West Bengal but also of the country. The TMC government has a problem with refugees getting citizenship but has no issue with illegal immigrants coming to the state,” Adityanath also said, referring to the statewide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Adityanath also said the BJP will stop “cow smuggling” – through the border with Bangladesh – within a day if it came to power in West Bengal.