Students’ resistance grows ahead of Modi’s two-day visit to Kolkata

Go Back Modi
Modi is likely to stay at Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission, on Saturday night | Photo: Twitter/ANI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kolkata on Saturday triggered a fresh wave of protests in the city with various students’ organisations taking to the streets. Former students of Ramakrishna Mission have even undertaken a mass email campaign urging the authorities to cancel Modi’s visit before the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

The resistance comes in the backdrop of several controversial government policies that triggered protests across the country in the last few months. One of the strongly-worded emails read, “I believe Thakur Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, and Maa Sarada Devi would under no circumstances have supported a mass murderer and a divider in chief.”

“Despite the nuanced ideological difference between the three, their overarching philosophy reject all that Modi embodies, upholds, and tries to champion. The saffron of Yogi Adityanath is nowhere close to the saffron represented by Swamiji,” the mail read. Modi is likely to stay at Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission, on Saturday night.

Also read | Modi, Mamata Banerjee to hold meeting in Kolkata on Saturday

Speaking to The Federal, Dhiman Sarbajna, former student of RKM Vidyalaya, Narendrapur and RKM Vidyamandira, Belur, said a number of former students of RKM have been protesting Modi’s arrival at Belur Math at a time when “Hindutva labels are often misquoting and misrepresenting Swami Vivekananda as a nationalistic icon.”

“The teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Swamiji always speak of an inclusive society that does not discriminate based on caste or creed. In the wake of the new Citizenship law, that fundamentally excludes Muslims from a constitutional law, Modi’s visit to Ramakrishna Mission, Belur as a part of his campaign is being opposed because of BJP’s stance as communal and goes against everything Ramakrishna Mission actually stands for,” he said.

Meanwhile, the hashtag #GoBackModi has also been trending on Twitter since Saturday morning, ahead of the prime minister’s two-day visit to the West Bengal capital. Left Front activists, carrying placards with “Go Back Modi” written on it, took out rallies near the airport, where the PM will land upon his arrival in the city.

Go Back Modi
Members of Students’ Federation of India protest against PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Kolkata | Photo: Twitter/ANI

The ruling Trinamool Congress students’ wing (TMCP) as well Left Front activists have begun their protests separately against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in various parts of West Bengal. TMCP began their “dharna” against CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) on Friday at Rani Rashmoni Road in Kolkata.

TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to spend an hour with the TMCP agitators during the day. She is scheduled to meet the prime minister in the evening. The Left Front activists staged protests on Saturday against the new citizenship law in various parts of North 24 Parganas district.

Modi’s visit comes at a time when West Bengal has been witnessing widespread protests against the contentious Citizenship Act. “We will continue our protest unless and until the Act is withdrawn. We don’t want Narendra Modi to come to Kolkata as it will vitiate the atmosphere of our state,” a protester said. Several organisations, both political and civil, have planned protest rallies across the city against the CAA and the NRC.

Also read | Modi, Shah statements on nationwide NRC contradictory: Mamata

During his visit, Modi will attend sesquicentenary celebrations of Kolkata Port Trust and hold a meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Apart from attending scheduled programmes, the prime minister will hold a one-on-one meeting with Banerjee at the Raj Bhavan on Saturday evening. The meeting assumes significance as the new citizenship law has emerged as the latest flashpoint in the state, with Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress opposing the contentious legislation tooth and nail, and the BJP pressing for its implementation.

The prime minister will dedicate to the nation four refurbished heritage buildings in Kolkata — the Old Currency Building, the Belvedere House, the Metcalfe House and the Victoria Memorial Hall. The Culture Ministry has renovated these iconic galleries and refurbished them with new exhibitions, while curating the old galleries.

Modi will also participate in the sesquicentenary celebrations of the Kolkata Port Trust on Saturday and Sunday. The Prime Minister and the chief minister will share dais at the programme at Netaji Indoor Stadium. West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar will also be present.

(With inputs from agencies)