Massive outrage over Amit Shah-Rabindranath Tagore poster in Bengal

Rahul M
·3 min read

A cultural row has broken out over home minister Amit Shah’s Sunday visit to West Bengal’s Bolpur. The controversy centered around flex banners bearing Shah’s image over Bengali cultural icon Rabindranath Tagore’s sketch.

The posters welcoming Shah in Shantiniketan, a place in Bolpur which was founded and developed by the Tagores, didn’t go down well with many Bengalis and the ruling Trinamool Congress party. Many took on to Twitter to express their outrage as #BJPinsultsTagore started trending a day before Shah’s visit to Shantiniketan.

As a sign of protest, the TMC had organised several rallies in front of the Nobel laureate’s ancestral house in Jorasanko in North Kolkata.

“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,” TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay was quoted as saying to the Free Press Journal.

Following massive outburst, the BJP had taken down the controversial banners. National Secretary of BJP, Anupam Hazra told the local media that this was a smear campaign against the BJP ahead of Shah’s Bolpur visit. “It is pre-planned by the TMC to disrupt our programmes here. Some organisations inclined to TMC purposely put up such demeaning posters across Shantiniketan. People now understand everything,” said Hazra.

Sudip Bandyopadhyay sang songs composed by the Nobel laureate on a stage opposite the main gate, while party activists stood with placards that read 'won't accept insult of Tagore by outsiders' and 'Omit Shah'.

'Putting up such hoardings in Santiniketan and Bolpur by the BJP has hurt the sentiments of people, and insulted Tagore,' TMC leader and minister Sashi Panja said.

BJP leader Pratap Banerjee, in reply, said his party was not involved in placing such haordings and alleged it was the 'handiwork of the local Trinamool Congress to defame us ahead of Amit Shah's visit to Birbhum'.

'And, the moment the issue came to our notice, our activists took the initiative to remove the flex hoardings,' he said.

Banerjee also said the BJP has great respect for Bengal's cultural icons.

After his Bolpur visit, Shah had even expressed his eagerness of coming and staying in Shantiniketan for a week to listen to Rabindrasangeet only if he got a vacation.

(With inputs from PTI)