Kolkata: West Bengal is in a midst of political slugfest, with two arch rivals - the BJP and the TMC - eulogising Bengal’s cultural heritage with Rabindranath Tagore as the central theme.
On one side, there were Bengali cultural extravaganzas with Tagore Sangeet and Union Home Minister Amit Shah visiting Visva Bharati in Bolpur which was set up by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. On the other, the TMC, concerned about the BJP ‘usurping’ Tagore and its denizens, held protest rallies in front the ancestral house of Tagore in Jorasanko in Kolkata.
Participating in a cultural programme at Visva Bharati, Shah said he was elated to visit the place where Gurudev Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi had lived.
“I firmly believe that it was not the Nobel Prize that acknowledged Tagore’s works. The Nobel Prize found its own acknowledgement by honouring Tagore. It was an honour to visit the rooms where Gurudev Rabindranath and Mahatma Gandhi had lived,” Shah said.
Talking to the media, Shah claimed that Tagore’s Visva Bharati was the centre that preserved the culture of the country.
“Through Visva Bharati, Rabindranath Tagore not only preserved the culture, languages and literature of India, he also amalgamated the same from around the world. He is the only person whose compositions became the national anthems of two countries,” said Shah at Bangladesh Bhawan in Bolpur, where he was felicitated with portraits of Tagore and Goddess Durga.
Meanwhile, in Kolkata, 161.9 km away from Santiniketan, the ruling Trinamool Congress, trying to upstage the saffron camp, held protest rallies in front of the ancestral house of the Nobel laureate in Jorasanko, claiming that the BJP had insulted Tagore by placing his photo below that of the Union minister.
“The BJP doesn’t even know the cultural heritage of Bengal. They have insulted one of the biggest saints of our state and country and beyond. They are just trying to capitalise on the name of the saints for the sake of votes,” said TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay.
Bengal Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee alleged that the BJP’s poster had belittled the stature of Rabindranath Tagore.
“Let the people of Bengal know that those who are ignorant of Rabindranath have come to occupy Bengal,” Mukherjee declared.
Flex hoardings, with a photo of Shah on top, the image of Tagore in the middle and that of BJP leader Anupam Hazra below, had appeared in parts of Santiniketan ahead of Shah's visit to Visva Bharati and a roadshow in Bolpur.