Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee — still smarting from the “Jai Shri Ram” slogans at the Netaji birth anniversary programme — launched a furious attack on the BJP today, accusing them of insulting all cultural icons of the state from Rabindranath Tagore to revolutionary Santhal leader Birsa Munda. Ahead of the coming elections, the Centre and the state had clashed even before the event was held. The Centre had declared the day “Parakram Diwas”, denying state requests to christen it the ‘Desh Nayak Diwas’.
“I went to their programme and some aggressive, fanatic traitors dared to tease me in front of the PM. They don’t know me. If you point a gun at me I will show you the armoury. But I don’t believe in politics by the gun,” the Chief Minister said at a programme today.
“You have insulted Netaji. You have named the birthplace of Tagore wrong. You have destroyed Vidyasagar’s statue. You garlanded a wrong statue thinking it was Birsa Munda,” she added, in a reference to the huge outsider-versus-insider debate raging in the state.
The Chief Minister was caught unawares at a programme on Saturday which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Held outside the majestic Victoria Memorial, the programme meant to mark the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was marred by “Jai Shri Ram” chants when the Chief Minister rose to speak.
Ms Banerjee, known to get upset over the slogan, refused to continue with her speech, saying, “This is not a political programme. Government programmes should have some dignity. It is not fair to insult someone you have invited.”
Amid a flurry of jibes from the BJP over her reaction, the Chief Minister today said the BJP should be rechristened the ”Bharat Jalao Party” and advised rebels in her party to leave as soon as possible.
Without naming Suvendu Adhikari and others who quit Trinamool to join the BJP, she said they had “money to hide”. The Trinamool chief said she “will not give them tickets in the coming elections”.
The Trinamool has pointed out that the Prime Minister, who was eyewitness to the event, did not refer to it in his address. “His silence condones the behaviour of the BJP supporters,” Bengal’s urban affairs minister Firhad Hakim said.
Over the last two days, scores of BJP leaders have heaped insults on Ms Banerjee over her reaction to “Jai Shri Ram” slogans. But it has also drawn support for Ms Banerjee from traditional rivals in the Congress and the Left front.
“The PM has damaged his own position by allowing this. No one has the right to insult Mamata Banerjee… our chief minister… like this. It was an attack by Hindu communalists on Bengal’s culture. A communal and political assault on Bengal,” Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.
“She did the right thing by refusing to give her speech. Why couldn’t she speak? Because BJP held a party programme on government money. This is wrong. A wrong is a wrong. Bengal has been wronged,” CPM’s Md Salim said.