Bengali relief for BJP leaders in Delhi
If a politician is from Bengal, better speak in Bengali.
Thanks to this message from the party headquarters in Delhi, Bengal BJP leaders who have to speak in Parliament or face the media in the national capital are breathing easy as communicating in Hindi became the biggest challenge for most of them.
“I have been trying to learn Hindi as prowess in that language is a must in our party. I have started taking lessons in Hindi, but it’s a tall order,” said a first-time MP who did not wish to be named.
Some BJP MPs this newspaper spoke to confirmed that the instruction had reached them and they were happy to be relieved of the burden of Hindi.
“As our primary target is to reach out to the people of Bengal, if we speak in Bengali in Parliament, they will get to know what we are doing,” said Shantanu Thakur, BJP MP from Bongaon in North 24-Parganas.
While most BJP leaders parroted the same argument when asked about the new rule of communication, some agreed in private that conversing in Hindi — except for the likes of Dilip Ghosh who cut his teeth in politics as a pracharak in the RSS before joining the BJP – was becoming a bother for them.
The problem, however, is not new for politicians from Bengal. Old-timers in the Congress recounted the problems that Pranab Mukherjee faced with Hindi.
Alimuddin Street sources also recalled stories of language barrier that CPM stalwarts like Promode Dasgupta and Biman Bose had to face during party meetings in Delhi.
“People like Pranab-babu could manage because he was comfortable communicating in English. But most of us are not well conversant with English. And when we try to manage with our toota-foota (broken) Hindi, it often gets hilarious,” said a state BJP leader.
According to him, party insiders often joke about the Hindi skills of leaders like Mukul Roy, whose Hindi has generated countless memes in social media, or CPM turncoat Khagen Murmu, who is the chief whip of the BJP MPs from Bengal.
“He (Murmu) was reading out from a speech in Hindi words written in Bengali while participating in a debate on the first day of the winter session of Parliament. It was more sounding like Bengali rather than Hindi, which was not making the desired impact,” an MP said on condition of anonymity.
The fact that the directive reached all became clear on Wednesday when Bankura MP Subhas Sarkar, whose Hindi speaking skills are known to be limited, was seen talking to the media outside the Parliament in Bengali. He attacked chief minister Mamata Banerjee over her government’s alleged failure in combating dengue in the state.
Sources in the state BJP headquarters disclosed that the main reason behind the decision of communicating in Bengali by the MPs from Bengal was their lack of Hindi skill.