‘Never indulged in politics’: Bengal monks dismiss Mamata’s allegation

Mamata accused some monks of working in favour of BJP

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee | PTI West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee | PTI

Amid a raging controversy over West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accusing some monks of two prominent monastic orders of working in favour of the BJP in the elections, the religious bodies on Sunday claimed that they have always stayed away from politics and never sought votes for candidates of any party.

Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress supremo, had in an election rally on Saturday alleged that some monks of two prominent monastic orders in West Bengal were working "under instructions of the BJP".

Banerjee had alleged that some monks of Ramakrishna Mission had asked devotees in Asansol to vote in favour of BJP, while a monk of Bharat Sevashram Sangha had forbidden a TMC agent to sit at a polling station in Baharampur in Murshidabad.

Referring to the allegations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a rally in Purulia on Sunday, said that TMC has gone "beyond limits" by spreading canards against Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Sangha and that Banerjee was "threatening them" to appease her vote bank.

Both Ramakrishna Mission and Bharat Sevashram Sangha dismissed the allegations and asserted that they focus only on service to the society.

A senior monk at Ramakrishna Mission's headquarters at Belur said, "We are pained and anguished at the insinuations... we do not wish to be implicated in any controversy... thousands of visitors from all walks of life come to our premises to pray and meditate, including the PM and the CM... everyone is same for us."

"We try to spread among people the eternal values of religion and spiritualism. To my knowledge, neither the mission nor any monk of our order had asked anyone to vote for any particular party," he added.

A spokesperson of the Bharat Sevashram Sangha said, "From cyclones to COVID, we have always rushed to the aid of the affected in far flung areas. We are a 107-year-old organisation and our monks run charitable health clinics, hospitals and educational institutions across the country. Neither had we ever been involved in politics nor we will be in the future."

Leader of Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari, said in a post on X, "I stand with Bharat Sevashram Sangha, I stand with ISKCON, I stand with all revered Hindu monks."

Adhikari later told reporters that the monks are widely revered by people of West Bengal and respected by all communities for their service to the poor.

"Her statement was condemned by all," Adhikari said.

State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that Banerjee's comments showed "how she uses monks for her own political interest and when ties sour for some reason, she speaks against them".

"The monk concerned (of Murshidabad) against whom she levelled charges used to be very close to her. She had even used him against me in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Apparently, their equations have changed with the emergence of the BJP," he alleged. 

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