Amartya Sen’s recent remarks on ‘Jai Shri Ram’, where he opined that the chant has no place in Bengal, has been put up on banners across Kolkata.
West Bengal: Banners displaying an image of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and his earlier statement on chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, seen in Kolkata. pic.twitter.com/gTikc1uWEf
— ANI (@ANI) July 12, 2019
The banners say, “Never heard the Jai Shri Ram slogan. It has been used to beat up people. I don’t think this slogan has any relation with the culture of Bangla. I asked my four-year-old granddaughter who is her favourite God, she replied ‘Maa Durga’. Ramnavami can never be compared with Maa Durga.”
The banners themselves say that these have been put up ordinary citizens of the city but the identity of these citizens hasn’t been revealed. The banners are painted in Mamata Banerjee’s favourite colours as well, Blue and White, and have a photograph of Amartya Sen. No party or organisation have taken ownership of the banners till now. The flex printed banners are framed, which means someone has spent a considerable amount of money in making and putting them up.
Controversial Bengal Minister Firhad Hakim asserted that the posters were put up by ordinary citizens in the city. He further claimed that the BJP had insulted Amartya Sen by having a difference of opinion. He told TOI, “The poster of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has been put up by ordinary people of the city. We support Amartya Sen, the great son and pride of Bengal. By disagreeing with him BJP has insulted him.”
BJP MLA Tigga, as expected, was furious with Sen. He said, “Amartya Sen has spent more over time in America than in Bengal so the value of Jai Shri Ram is not known to him. If we don’t chant Jai Shri Ram in Bengal and in India then should we chant it in Pakistan, Bangladesh and America?”
President of the West Bengal unit of the BJP, Dilip Ghosh, echoed similar sentiments. “Amartya Sen probably doesn’t know Bengal. Does he know about Bengali or Indian culture? Jai Shri Ram is chanted in every village. Now entire Bengal says it,” he said.
Amartya Sen had recently claimed that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ wasn’t a part of Bengali culture and the slogan is used merely to beat people up. He had also claimed that Ram Navami has gained in popularity in recent times, something which wasn’t present earlier.
Amartya Sen is known for his controversial and biased remarks on religion. Earlier, he had said that Christian schools are perfectly acceptable but other faith schools are a big mistake and should be scrapped.
Sen’s recent remarks, combined with the banners, appear to be an attempt to foment regionalist divide in the country. In recent times, Bengal has witnessed a concerted attempt by political factions to launch a movement along the lines of Dravidianism to thwart the rise of the BJP. Mamata Banerjee had herself participated in it by labelling protesting doctors ‘Outsiders‘ and accused them of working for the BJP.
Unable to contain the stellar rise of the BJP in the state as a consequence of Trinamool’s minority appeasement and deteriorating law and order, regional chauvinism appears to be the card political factions have decided to play to keep BJP away from power.