| Subhas Chakraborty at Tarapeeth
Calcutta, Sept. 15: A day after offering puja to the goddess Kali, CPM minister Subhas Chakraborty almost said he’s a Hindu first, then a Brahmin, and mentioned nothing about being a communist, immediately provoking the BJP to roll out the welcome mat if he wanted to join.
“Given my name, wherever I go in India, I am first a Hindu and then a Brahmin. This is the truth, how can I deny it'” the transport minister said, glowing in the light of the controversy he has created with his visit to Tarapeeth yesterday where he offered flowers and a donation of Rs 501.
Bengal BJP president Tathagata Roy, highly impressed with the CPM leader’s change of heart if it can be called that, said: “Now that he’s clearly jettisoned Marxism and established his credentials, he’s welcome to apply to join the BJP. We’ll consider his case.”
Chakraborty could not be contacted to check if he might now want to join the BJP but, back in Calcutta today, he continued in the vein of a Kalibhakt — well, by a small stretch of imagination.
Chakraborty said he had committed no wrong by visiting the Tarapeeth temple, though even his proclaimed mentor Jyoti Basu had expressed amazement at the act.
Even today Basu was dismissive. “Whom does he see and worship' Does she exist at all' It would be better if he worshipped mankind,” he said.
Talking of worship, Chakraborty said Basu was the equivalent of God to him. On this occasion, however, he didn’t seem too pleased with God. That’s no surprise.
Which believer can claim never to have been displeased by an action or, usually, inaction of God'
When told Basu disapproved of his Tarapeeth visit, Chakraborty shot back: “People needn’t always agree on all counts. Jyotibabu himself had visited a gurdwara with his head covered after Indira Gandhi’s assassination.”
Although this wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular, he said: “I’ve been to all famous temples and mosques in India, those who criticise me now have themselves done the same on the sly.”
There might be some truth in that, though communists are supposed to be atheists.
Chakraborty said he had visited Kali temples at Kalighat and Dakshineshwar. “I see no harm in this. I don’t think this violates any principle of Marxism.”
Although CPM state secretariat member Benoy Konar said Chakraborty would have to decide first whether he is a theologist or a Marxist — though he need not be one or the other since South America already has a history of priests practising religion with Marxism — the BJP was elated.
Tathagata Roy said: “Subhasbabu is a realist. He has finally understood that Marxism belongs to the realm of history, while Hindutva was always there and will continue to remain. At last, he’s hit upon the real thing.”
Chakraborty has gone far with his newly expressed opinion on religion, but he claimed that he did not perform puja at Tarapeeth.
“I was given flowers. Should I have thrown them away' Even if someone offers puja, what’s wrong' Millions of people frequent the Tarapeeth temple.”
The minister was photographed offering puja with hands folded, garlanding the idol, offering it a zari-lined sari and chanting “Joy Ma Tara”.
Chakraborty believes communists have alienated themselves from Indian culture and tradition — Sangh boss R.S. Sudarshan would love this.
Uncomfortable with the lal salaam he has been flashing since his student days, Chakraborty said: “I prefer the namaskar and pranam.”
Prakash Karat, the CPM boss, is not going to love this. “We haven’t been able to make ourselves acceptable everywhere. How else can you justify that only three states with an 11-crore population are communist-ruled in a country of over 100 crore'” Chakraborty wondered.