Signs welcoming Amit Shah place Tagore below him, raise a row
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) drew people’s ire after posters bearing the image of the Union Minister of the Interior Amit Shah on Rabindranath Tagore were found on Friday across Bolpur and Shantiniketan in the Birbhum district of Bengal.
Shah, who will be on a two-day tour of Bengal this weekend, will visit Bolpur on Sunday. You will be taking part in a tour and heading to a rally. You will also have lunch at the village house of a folk singer.
The posters also featured bold images of Bolpur’s former Trinamool Congress (TMC) deputy Anupam Hazra, who joined the BJP in 2019 and is now the party’s national secretary. Hazra was also a student and teacher at Visva Bharati. The images were printed on a saffron background. The posters bore the name of a cultural organization as a sponsor.
On December 9, the Bengal unit of BJP quoted JP Nadda as saying that Tagore’s birthplace is Visva Bharti. The tweet was later deleted. The TMC, however, used the tweet to criticize the BJP chief for not knowing the history of the land. The Nobel Prize winner was born in the old Jorasanko of Calcutta.
BJP leaders quickly removed the posters after local people, for whom Tagore is a cultural pride, and students at Visva Bharati, the only national university in Bengal established by the poet, raised objections.
Hazra, who has been put in charge of the arrangements to welcome Shah, claimed that the posters were not made or posted by the BJP.
“This was planned by the TMC. We were raised in Shantiniketan. I was a student here. We know how to pay tribute to Tagore. This was sabotage. In the same way, a bust of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar was vandalized (in 2019) in Kolkata during a Shah tour. The posters were put up around the place where the tour and rally will take place, ”Hazra said.
“Our men are taking down the posters because we cannot see Tagore insulted. The TMC should have removed these. The organization named on the posters doesn’t even exist, ”Hazra said.
Bikash Mishra, chairman of the BJP’s Bolpur municipal unit, however, said that the posters, and similar ones with photos of Bengal’s BJP President Dilip Ghosh, had been made for the rally.
Anubrata Mondal, the TMC district president known for his provocative speeches, said: “Is Tagore’s place under Amit Shah? Can Bengal be insulted like this? People will not tolerate this. ”
Hours after TMC shared photos of the sign on social media, the Bengal BJP tweeted an old photo showing a sign with a life-size image of Mamata Banerjee hanging against a tree trunk with a small bust of Netaji Subhas that Chandra Bose kept. Below that.
“Don’t teach us to respect Bengali icons! Be it Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose or Rabindranath Tagore, TMC cadres have little respect for Bengali culture. All they do is compete with each other to appease Pishi at the cost of dishonoring national heroes like Netaji or Kabiguru, ”the BJP tweeted at 11:36 pm.
During the day, Visva Bharati students, who owed allegiance to various leftist organizations, also protested against Shah’s proposed meeting with Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty on Sunday. Shah will also visit a few sites within the sprawling university campus.
Claiming that Rabindranath was the face of the fight against fascism, the organizations presented a memorandum to Chakraborty. “We call on our CV and other officials not to welcome this type of person (Shah) to Shantiniketan and tarnish the ideology of Rabindranath and Shantiniketan,” they said in a letter to the CV.
The Visva Bharati authorities did not react to this until Friday evening.