Our saffron not political: Ramakrishna Mission after Modi’s CAA remark

Ramakrishna Mission Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a monk at Belur Math in Howrah district | PTI Photo

The Ramakrishna Math and Mission on Sunday (January 12) said it believes in inclusivity, and distanced itself from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act contending that it was strictly an apolitical body.

The new citizenship law would not take away anybody’s citizenship, the prime minister said during his address from Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission, on the second day of his visit. Modi also said that a section of the youth was being misguided about CAA.

Addressing a press meet here, Swami Suvirananda, the Ramakrishna Math and Mission general secretary, said, “The organisation will not comment on the prime minister’s speech on CAA. We are a strictly apolitical body. We have come here after leaving our homes to answer eternal calls. We do not respond to ephemeral calls.”

Ramakrishna Mission
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with monks outside Sri Ramakrishna temple at Belur Math | PTI Photo

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He said Modi was a guest and the onus was on him on what he had spoken at the Math. “But when you have a guest… Atithi Devo Bhava is the Indian culture. And you must extend all kinds of courtesies, decencies to him. And if something you feel ought not have been told, the onus lies on the person who tells it but not on the host, by no logic,” he added.

Swami Suvirananda further said that both Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee are not politicians but leaders holding constitutional posts. “They represent the Constitution of India as they have a statutory post. Mamata Banerjee is the leader of West Bengal and Modi is the leader of India,” he noted.

Asked whether Modi’s speech on the CAA was an attempt to ‘saffronise’ the Mission, Swami Suvirananda said, “We are already saffron but that doesn’t mean that we are saffron in the sense that is being interpreted in politics today.”

Ramakrishna Mission
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to Swami Vivekananda on his birth anniversary at Belur Math | PTI Photo

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He said the Mission believes in inclusivity and is the only order in the world where the monks do not cast their votes. “We are apolitical to that extent that our monks do not cast votes. The only order in the world which does not cast votes,” he said.

“We are inclusive as an organisation, only order in the world which has monks from Hindus sects and from even Islam. Ours is the only organisation which has Christian monks, hundreds in numbers, Buddhist monks and we live like brothers, more brotherly than the brother born to same parents… What more inclusiveness do you want?” he said.

Modi, who came to the city on Saturday evening on a two-day trip to attend 150 years celebrations of the Kolkata Port Trust, spent a night at the Math here. The prime minister described his visit to the Math as a “homecoming”.

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Meanwhile, Opposition parties too slammed Modi for making a “political speech” at Belur Math, saying he has forgotten to differentiate between a spiritual place and a rally out of desperation to implement the new Citizenship law.

“The prime minister should have refrained from making a political speech at Belur Math. We condemn it. He should not have turned Belur Math into a venue of a political rally. There is some decorum in politics and public life, we need to maintain it,” Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.

Reacting to the PM’s speech, TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said, “It only proves the desperation of the Centre and that it is on the back foot after countrywide anti-CAA protests. We condemn such cheap politics at a religious place like Belur Math. The people of India will never accept CAA.”

CPI(M) politburo member Mohammed Salim was hopeful that the monks of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission would condemn PM Modi’s “political speech” at Belur Math. Responding to the allegations made by the opposition parties, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said the CPI(M) and Congress should stop “lecturing on right and wrong”.

(With inputs from agencies)