Have guts, amend Constitution: Mamata dares BJP

Kolkata, Jan 30 (IANS) Coming down heavily on forced religious conversions West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in a veiled attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday, challenged it to amend the secular Indian Constitution.

“Why should someone force others to convert? Who gave them that responsibility? Some people are saying this religion is good, that is bad. Don’t ride the rickshaw pulled by a man of this religion… etc.
“They are controlling people; they don’t know when you are in power you must practice good governance first. Good governance doesn’t mean controlling others. You can’t control anybody’s rights.
“Secularism is enshrined in the Constitution. If you want to do that (control) and if you have the guts then go and amend the Constitution, change it…,” Banerjee said at a function here.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo’s comments came a day after an FIR was registered against Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) chief Pravin Togadia and functionary Jugal Kishore for hurting religious sentiments following the alleged conversion of over 100 tribals in West Bengal.
Banerjee said people are using money to convert people.
“What kind of religious conversions? Forcibly some people are indulging in religious conversions by giving money.
“Tribal people are our pride. Why do they have to undergo conversion. They will decide for themselves,” she said.
The TMC had alleged that the VHP conducted a ‘ghar wapsi’ ceremony at Kharmadanga village in Rampurhat in the district Wednesday during which nearly 150 Christians were ‘forcibly’ converted.
The VHP refuted the charges of conversion but claimed that a Hindu religious ceremony was conducted in which over 1,000 people from the village, including Muslims and Christians took part.
On Mahatma Gandhi’s 67th death anniversary Friday, Banerjee stressed on communal harmony and said there is an attempt to foment religious tensions in the state.
“The Indian Constitution doesn’t give the right to disrespect others. Indian Constitution is a secular constitution and tells us to treat religions equally.
“We are noticing (some people are) triggering a conflict between one religion and another. Some people are trying to incite violence and tension among different religions”.
She added: “If someone thinks that now they are in the chair (in power) and will throw away others, then people will throw away such persons.”