New Delhi: Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee firefights the perception battle by changing her display picture with nationalists from Bengal which has'Jai Hind' written on the top and 'Jai Bangla' on the bottom. But her own party MLA Jitendra Tiwari called those chanting "Jai Shri Ram", "intoxicated".

What did the TMC MLA say?

Tiwari who is not new to controversies said, "Look if anyone takes Ram's name with bhakti, we don't have any problem. But if someone drinks alcohol and then chants Ram's name, we won't tolerate that". He didn't stop at that. He further alleged BJP is feeding its cadre nonveg and providing them with alcohol to chant "Jai Shri Ram". He also has a diktat for those uttering the phrase that it can only be allowed where there is a religious event going on and not on the streets. 

This sensitive statement has created a massive row with the BJP and particularly the Vishwa Hindu Parishad who are up in arms. The TMC is already facing a perception battle where its chief minister has objected to this chant at least twice, forcing the BJP to resort to sending 10 lakh postcards to the state secretariat with "Jai Shri Ram" written on it, addressed to Mamata Banerjee.

Mamata's futile fire-fight 

Facing a massive backlash across the country for the chant, Mamata changed the display picture on Twitter and Facebook with Jai Hind and Jai Bangla written. nationalist luminaries like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Bhagat Singh, Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, and others also feature in the display picture. This is widely seen as a fire fighting mechanism and a repositioning of the Mamata brand.

Also read: Mamata asks cops to arrest people chanting 'Jai Shri Ram'

But this move is not only belated but has been undone by her party colleagues. Already key figures like Swami Vivekananda and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose are being appropriated by the BJP. PM Modi ordered the declassification of Netaji files after coming to power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also inaugurated the Subhas Chandra Bose museum at Red Fort today to mark the leader's 122nd birth anniversary. His great-grandson Chandra Bose fought on a BJP ticket from Kolkata this time. 
Similarly, Modi observed Vivekanda's 125th birth anniversary with elaborate planning throughout the year. By the time Mamata changed her display picture, people started associating these icons more with the BJP than with a state or its leaders. 

Mamata's brush with "Jai Shri Ram"

Recently the Bengal police had arrested at least 10 young men for chanting "Jai Shi Ram", as the BJP claims. Interestingly, the officer in charge of the local police station was replaced. But in a video that went viral, Mamata Banerjee was seen angrily confronting young men who were chanting "Jai Shri Ram". Banerjee not only got down from her vehicle but also instructed police officials to find the offenders by checking every house. She was also seen shouting, "You are at our pittance. Yet you have the audacity to create ruckus? You are alive because of us."

Also read: Look who supported the arrested in Bengal for shouting 'Jai Shri Ram'

In another incident, while on her way to Chandrakona, during the Lok Sabha election, she objected to similar chants which gave the BJP an opportunity to portray her as 'anti-Hindu'. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in one of his rallies in Bengal dared Banerjee by saying, "Didi has thrown people in jail for chanting 'Jai Shri Ram'. I thought of saying Jai Shri Ram here today so that she can throw me inside jail too. That way, the people of Bengal might be protected from the wrath of the TMC regime".

Mamata's animated opposition to "Jai Shri Ram" provided BJP with a rallying point in Bengal to further consolidate votes. But realising that, she tried to reposition herself, however belatedly. But with utterances like the one of TMC MLA Jitendra Tiwari has only undone Mamata's endeavours.