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Mamata flags BJP’s blunder on Tagore

Demand answers. Changing Tagore’s birthplace, smashing Vidyasagar’s statue, wrongly identifying Birsa Munda… this brand of fake politics cannot go on for long

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya Calcutta Published 11.12.20, 03:02 AM
Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee File Picture

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday appealed to “all lovers of Bengal’s civilisation” to protest “a bigger lie” by BJP that Rabindranath Tagore had been born at Visva-Bharati.

She was referring to the BJP Bengal unit’s official Twitter handle issuing a tweet on Wednesday with a quote, attributing it to the party’s national president J.P. Nadda, stating that Tagore, one of the foremost Bengali icons, had been born in Visva-Bharati.


Addressing the culmination event of the Trinamul Congress’s three-day sit-in near Gandhi statue in Calcutta on Thursday in favour of the nationwide farmers’ agitation, Mamata said: “Such mega liars, let me give you one example…. Their (the BJP’s) babus held a meeting even yesterday (Wednesday) and said Rabindranath Tagore was supposedly born in Visva-Bharati, at Santiniketan. Tell me, what can be a bigger lie, a bigger attempt to alter history?”

BJP sources had said Nadda — whose speech was peppered with attempts to substantiate his party’s Bengal connect — did not actually say so in his speech but the mistake was made by its IT cell.

The tweet, put out at 2.35pm on the microblogging site by the @BJP4Bengal handle, was taken down later.

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But by then, many netizens and Trinamul Congress had noticed it, and taken screenshots of the faux pas for circulation. “He was born in 1861 and Visva-Bharati came into being 60 years later. If he was born there, what about Jorasanko Thakurbari (Tagore’s actual birthplace in Calcutta)?” the Trinamul supremo asked. “Those who can come up with such gigantic lies about even Rabindranath Tagore, what do you expect them to do about you and me? They have shamed Bengal…. I appeal to all lovers of Bengal’s civilisation, culture… members of the civil society, everyone… protest, resist, roar,” she said.

“Demand answers. Changing Tagore’s birthplace, smashing Vidyasagar’s statue, wrongly identifying Birsa Munda… this brand of fake politics cannot go on for long,” said the Trinamul chief.

Such incidents have allowed Mamata to portray the BJP as the bohiragawto (outsider) trying to invade and ruin Bengal, a charge that has become a staple of her speeches in the run-up to next year’s Assembly polls.

“You had planned the Vidyasagar vandalism…. Will not tolerate every lie. Enough is enough. Tagore’s birthplace, the controversy the BJP has created, the malicious propaganda…. They are manipulators and violators of history. Trying to attack the very backbone of Bengal and its culture,” said Mamata, ordering her party to take this to the people during a 10-day outreach exercise at the grassroots from Friday.

“Bishwokobi (Tagore), forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing,” she added, in a Biblical reference. “They want to eliminate Bengal from India.”

A minister said Mamata would increasingly weave such elements into her campaign against the BJP and refer to attempts to deify “controversial” figures that the saffron ecosystem considers iconic — such as Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Deendayal Upadhyaya — often at the cost of more widely accepted icons with inclusive, secular philosophies, such as Tagore and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

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