Scenes of dancers in skimpy costumes enthralling a crowd even as a man threw cash towards them, at a function to observe the foundation day of the Trinamool Congress, caused major embarrassment to the party and created an uproar here on Wednesday. The function was held in Bhangar, in the State’s South 24 Parganas district.
It was only after the salacious scenes were flashed on a Bengali news channel that the senior Trinamool Congress leadership intervened and the function, which had gone on for a couple of hours, was stopped.
Since Wednesday morning the party was in damage control mode with Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien condemning the incident and assuring the people that action would be taken against those responsible for organising the event. Later in the day, local Trinamool Congress leader and a member of the South 24 Parganas Zilla Parishad, Mir Taher Ali, was suspended. Mr. O’Brien tweeted that a meeting of the party’s disciplinary meeting had been held. An inquiry into the incident had been ordered and expulsion has not been ruled out.
However, the incident created ripples in political circles through the day drawing severe criticism from all political parties.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has faced criticism in the past for the huge public expenditure on cultural events, but senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohd. Salim pointed out that the function reflected the culture that the Trinamool Congress had brought to every locality in West Bengal.
“When the Trinamool Congress government had come to power in the State, songs by poet Rabindranath Tagore were played at traffic signals on Ms. Banerjee’s direction… But such a display on a political platform shows the kind of culture the party is breeding,” he said.
Om Prakash Mishra, general secretary of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee, said the incident showed that the Trinamool Congress lacked principles and had lost control over its supporters. “This goes against the decorum that has been a hallmark of politics in the State.”
President of the State unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party Rahul Sinha said the incident had brought shame to all political parties .
Mr. O’ Brien said he spoke to Ms. Banerjee, “and she had two words — zero tolerance.”
He said: “Please do not portray this as something endorsed by Trinamool. For Trinamool, cultural sensibilities and gender sensibilities are absolutely paramount. Please be reassured it is not endorsed by anyone from the Trinamool Congress.”
National Commission for Women chairperson Mamta Sharma said, “It is shameful that they are celebrating this way. We need a change of mindset among all political parties.”