Trinamool Congress-backed orginsations will hold a march on the occasion of Ram Navami in Siliguri on 14 April, a move seen as an initiative to reach out to Hindu voters ahead of the general elections. The party’s Ram Navami Udjapon Committee convened a meeting on Monday to discuss preparations for the Ram Navami procession.

The Trinamool Congress organising such rallies on the occasion of Ram Navami was not a regular feature in the town, until last year. Hindu organisations under the banner of Sri Ram Navami Mahotsav Samiti have been organising processions to mark the occasion in the town.

“There is no issue of throwing a challenge to any organisation or political party, but it is a means to spread the message of peace and tolerance. It has no link with politics. We believe in all religions and want to spread the message of religious harmony, peace tolerance and brotherhood. We will invite people from different faiths to participate in the colourful rally,” said president of the committee, Nantu Paul.

Mr Paul, who is also a senior Trinamool Congress leader and a ward councillor of the party, said different social and sports organisations were set to join the Ram Navami procession that will start from the Hanuman Temple at Mallaguri More and end at Gandhi Maidan after covering Hill Cart Road, Sevoke Road, Bidhan Road and SF Road.

Though the functionaries of the committee ruled out that the march had any links with the ensuing elections, Trinamool Congress leaders said the move would help woo Hindus with the BJP enjoying a significant support base in the area.

“We believe in secularism and against religious polraisation, which the BJP has been practising. The elections and religious programmes should not be linked together, but it will definitely help our party penetrate more among the Hindu voters,” said a senior Trinamool Congress leader.

The BJP, meanwhile, welcomed the move. “It is good that the Trinamool Congress, which was recently trying to prevent Ram Navami rallies organised by religious outfits by using the police and administration, is organising the rally. But they would not be able to hoodwink the people,” said Abhijit Roy Chowdhury, president of the Siliguri Organisational District of the BJP.