Ahead of the 2024 general election, the BJP is trying a new tactic to win over Bengal—coopting themes native to the state, resuscitating half-forgotten temples and reimagining ‘ancient’ pilgrimages
PIETY ON DISPLAY: Devotees at Tribeni sangam
It was supposed to be a soiree celebrating the birth anniversaries of two great Bengali poets—Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam—in the sprawling nat mandir (dance hall) of Radha Govinda Jiu temple at Nabadwip, in West Bengal’s Nadia district. But, an hour before its start on May 24, amidst sudden commotion, the organisers were made to remove a picture of Nazrul and delete his name from the title—Rabindra-Nazrul Sandhya—by temple authorities. Later, it emerged they had bowed to ‘pressure’ from the BJP, who did not appreciate the celebration of a Muslim poet in a Hindu temple space.