Chants of 'Jai Shri Ram' reverberated in the Lok Sabha when West Bengal BJP MP Babul Supriyo was called for taking oath as the member of the Parliament on the first day of the Budget session. The chants continued to echo in the lower house when another Bengal MP Debasree Chaudhary took her oath.
The slogan 'Jai Shri Ram' has seeped into Bengal's political narrative since the Lok Sabha elections this year with the BJP heavily capitalising on it.
It was perhaps one of the factors that contributed to the party's victory in 18 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats - a first for them in the state. Their voteshare too has increased manifold - from 16.8 per cent in 2014 to 40 per cent in 2019.
The slogan became a vital part of the BJP's election narrative after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was seen halting her convoy in West Midnapur to confront a few people chanting the slogan at her passing car.
After the video went viral, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed his party workers were detained for chanting the slogan and dared Banerjee to arrest him for the same. "If we do not chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’ in India, will we chant it in Pakistan?" he asked.
However, Banerjee, blaming the BJP for religious polarisation in Bengal, said the saffron party had made Ram an "election agent" while failing to build even "one Ram temple".
In a bid to make inroads in the state and win over the Hindu voters, the saffron party has often successfully used the image of Lord Ram during election campaigns.
They first organised largescale Ram Navami celebrations in 2017 (not often seen in Bengal).
Interestingly, prior to these elections, Ram has never taken precedence in Hindu households in Bengal.
Banerjee, who is desperately trying to fix her party's image prior to the upcoming Assembly elections, countered the BJP's Ram pitch by invoking the most worshipped deity in the state - 'Durga'. Earlier, she was accused of appeasing the minority and ignoring the Hindu community.
The times they are indeed a-changin' in Bengal.