The battle between the BJP and Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress escalated today with party chief JP Nadda ripping into Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, accusing her of being motivated by “jealousy, political malice and arrogance”. This, he said, is far from the culture of Bengal and the legacy of Rabindranath Tagore.
The BJP, keen to shake off the “outsider” tag given to it by Ms Banerjee and her party, has been focusing on the university founded by Tagore a hundred years ago. Days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the University, Prime Minister Narendra Modi deliver the keynote address on its centenary celebrations this week.
The Trinamool Congress said Ms Banerjee was not invited for the function, which the Prime Minister had attended through video conference. The party has also alleged that the Prime Minister had made errors in his speech and “denigrated” Bengali culture and traditions.
“Honorable prime minister @narendramodi Ji has a strong faith in Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and the culture, literature and philosophy of West Bengal. He has always considered Bengal to be exemplary and giving direction to the country,” Mr Nadda said in one of a series of tweets.
Earlier today, the BJP had produced the university’s letter inviting the Chief Minister and accused her of insulting the institution by her absence.
The fight between Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and its main challenger BJP in the run-up to next year’s assembly elections has augmented into a battle over Bengal’s icons and their legacies.
In his tweets, Mr Nadda cited several others of Bengal’s most respected sons to deprecate the Chief Minister.
“The malice, arrogance, lies and tyranny that Mamata Banerjee is on — it is not the culture of Gurudev Rabindranath and Swami Vivekananda. Not the culture of Subhash Chandra Bose and Syama Prasad Mukerjee, Not the culture of Bengal. It is the culture of Mamta and TMC, which repeatedly embarrasses Bengal,” read another tweet of Mr Nadda, whose convoy was attacked in Bengal recently.
The Trinamool has been hugely critical about PM Modi over his pronunciation of Bengali names and fact-checked the points he made in his address. Senior party leader Bratya Bose had questioned the Prime Minister’s remarks linking Rabindranath Tagore to Gujarat.
“When I speak about Gurudev, I cannot help but indulge in speaking a little about his visits to Gujarat. He used to visit his elder brother who was posted there. He even wrote two of his famous poems whilst in Gujarat. Why I say all this, it is because it shows how India has always been about diverse cultures coming together and living in harmony,” the Prime Minister had said.
His words were seen as a sidelight on Mamata Banerjee’s assertion that she would not “allow Bengal to be turned into Gujarat”.
“Tagore’s brother who was in Gujarat was not the oldest brother. His wife’s name was Gyanadanandini, not Gyanandini which is what the PM said,” he said.
Citing Tagore’s novel Gora, he also criticized the Prime Minister on his comments about nationalism.
“Tagore said nationalism was the most divisive thing. Using religion to divide was not what Tagore advocated. His novel ‘Gora’ was about religion and what it eventually means to man. His novel ‘Ghare Baire’s’ message was that nationalism is an addiction that divides,” the senior Trinamool leader had said.