File Photo
File Photo

The Mamata Banerjee-led All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) is already ramping up the offensive against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the 2021 West Bengal Legislative Assembly elections. Slamming the saffron camp over alleged impudence to revered iconic figures in Bengal, the Trinamool Congress on Friday also threw in a jibe at Union Home Minister Amit Shah's "chronology" remark and asked him if the BJP thought such 'disrespect' is what the people of Bengal deserve.

On its official Twitter handle on this day, the TMC highlighted four pictures from incidents whereby the BJP has been accused of defiling or disrespecting iconic figures of Bengal. The pictures were captioned with allegations against the saffron camp for the said act.

The TMC asked, "Is this the chronology people of Bengal deserve?"

Notably, a bust of Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, a 19th century educational and social reformer and Bengal Renaissance icon, was vandalised during clashes between workers of the Trinamool Congress and the BJP when the saffron party president Amit Shah was holding a roadshow in Kolkata on May 14 last year before the Lok Sabha elections. Both the parties accused each other of desecrating the bust.

Blaming the BJP, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had then claimed that a group of "politically-blind giants" had vandalised the bust of figure who "they" did not even know.

"They did not know that it was not just a statue. It represented an age, a history and a culture. You cannot destroy everything by vandalising a statue," Banerjee had said.

In a separate instance earlier this year, a BJP worker was also accused of tearing down in Purulia a statue of Kanhu Murmu, who along with Sidhu Murmu led the 19th century Santhal rebellion against the British colonial authority and the zamindari system.

It was alleged that the BJP worker had even boasted of destroying the statue in a committee meeting, although public blame games continued. Notably, Sidhu-Kanhu Murmu are almost revered as demigods among the Santhal regions in eastern India.

Finally, the BJP was met with another PR disaster on Thursday (November 5) after Union Minister Amit Shah offered flowers to a roadside statue in Bankura that the party had identified as one belonging to tribal freedom fighter and folk hero Birsa Munda, but as it turned out, was just of an anonymous hunter according to the tribals. The BJP later tried making amends by placing a photo of Birsa Munda on the foot of the statue but the tribals saw it as a mark of disrespect to the revered Munda leader.

Notably, Birsa Munda had spearheaded a tribal religious millenarian movement against the British Raj in the late 19th century, mainly in the Munda Belt of Khunti, Tamar, Sarwada, and Bandgaon.

The latest jibe from TMC comes in a series of allegations against the BJP for being 'ignorant' of Bengal's culture and history, a part of Mamata Banerjee's gameplan to portray the saffron camp as 'outsider' to win over the popular sentiment ahead of the state assembly polls.

So far, it seems to be working, as is evident from Mamata's constant 'outsider' jibes against BJP's gaffes, which has become a staple in her speeches and rallies in the run-up to the polls.

From Vidyasagar to Birsa Munda, the TMC is aiming to capitalise on the alleged defilement by the BJP of Bengal's pantheon of icons and paint it as the party of "Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan".

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Free Press Journal