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Abhishek slams Shah ‘tokenism’ on icon

Spat over the legacy of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar
Remains of Vidyasagar’s bust after the vandalism in May 2019

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya   |   Calcutta   |   Published 30.07.20, 01:17 AM

The BJP and the Trinamul Congress sparred over the legacy of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar on his death anniversary on Wednesday, 14 months after the polymath’s bust had been smashed at the tail-end of a road show by Amit Shah in north Calcutta.

In an indication that the Bengal Renaissance icon will probably remain one of the planks of campaign for the Assembly elections next year, Trinamul’s de facto Number Two and MP Abhishek Banerjee retweeted Union home minister Shah’s post that paid homage to Vidyasagar and mounted an offensive on the BJP.

“I bow to Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar ji on his punyatithi. A distinguished social reformer and one of the pillars of Bengal Renaissance, who played a major role towards women empowerment. His relentless efforts eradicated many social evils and made Widows’ Remarriage Act possible,” read Shah’s tweet on Wednesday morning.

Abhishek came at Shah with his tweet in the afternoon. “Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a great social reformer who still stands tall as an inspiration for secular, free-thinking society. Ironic how @AmitShah ji had scant regard for Vidyasagar’s values when his men vandalised the latter’s bust. Please drop this facade of petty tokenism!” posted the Trinamul youth wing chief.

He was referring to the vandalism of Vidyasagar’s bust on May 14, 2019. The incident, several political observers had said, had a huge impact on the last phase of Parliament elections in Bengal as the BJP had been handed a drubbing in nine seats which comprise 63 of 294 Assembly segments. The 63 Assembly seats include 35 in urban areas of Calcutta, North 24-Parganas and South 24-Parganas.

Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said it was the state government’s responsibility to prove who was behind the vandalism and Mamata Banerjee always used the Bengali icons for her political advantage.

“Tribute to Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, social reformer and educationist, on his death anniversary. He is one of the tallest figures of the Bengal Renaissance. His contribution in women’s education and legalising widow-remarriage is undeniable,” the chief minister tweeted


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