Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday (January 23) lashed out at some people, who were allegedly raising 'Jai Shri Ram' slogans, and declined to speak at an event to celebrate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's birth anniversary
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present at the Victoria Memorial today. There were roaring chants of "Modi, Modi, Modi" from the crowd as well, to which the Prime Minister waved back.
Banerjee had not started her speech when the slogan was raised by a section of the crowd at the Victoria Memorial event to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of the legendary freedom fighter.
The chief minister reprimanded the unidentified group of people, saying that the event was not a "political programme" and dignity should be mantained while attending it. She said that such "insult" was unacceptable.
"I think the government's program should have dignity. This is not a political program... It doesn't suit you to insult someone after inviting them. As a protest, I won't speak anything," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
As the Chief Minister was walking on to the stage to deliver her speech for the occasion, the crowd present at the site started chanting 'Jai Shri Ram' slogans visibly to annoy her, for lack of a better word.
And their purpose was served. The Chief Minister appeared visibly annoyed when she started speaking, and noted that a government programme must have its own dignity.
"I think a government programme should have its own dignity. This is not a political programme of any party," Mamata said.
"I am grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Ministry of Culture for organising this cultural programme," said Mamata, as the Prime Minister acknowledged the mention, "But you should not insult someone after inviting them, this does not suit you. In protest of that, I am not telling anything [sic.]"
The Chief Minister then said "Joy Hind, Joy Bangla!" and walked off the stage, cutting short her speech.
Prime minister Modi was also greeted with 'Jai Shri Ram' chants by people waiting outside the Netaji Bhawan in the Bhawanipore area of the city earlier in the day, and he waved at them.
Notably, all of this comes amid the dates for the state assembly elections inching ever so closer, before which both the ruling TMC and the opposing BJP are waging a bitter war to claim complete allegiance to Bengali culture and its icons.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is one in a long line of Bengali icons, from Bankimchandra Chattapadhyay to Swami Vivekananda, who are being attempted to be appropriated by both the parties for their respective political causes.