After outrage erupted over the depiction of a dhoti-clad bald man with a walking stick, bearing resemblance to Mahatma Gandhi as ‘Asur’ at a Durga Puja Pandal organised by All India Hindu Mahasabha, the Kolkata Police intervened and changed its look.
Citizens from different walks of life and almost all political parties had expressed their displeasure over the depiction at a Puja Pandal near Ruby-Bypass connector on the eastern fringes of Kolkata and sought intervention of authorities.
“Yesterday evening police personnel came with an artist and changed the idol. We did not want to make any changes but they forced us to do so,” Chandrachur Goswami, working president of the West Bengal state unit of All India Hindu Mahasabha told The Hindu.
Asked about the reason for such an objectionable depiction of the Father of the Nation, Mr. Gosmani said that they had put a “bald man with glasses” as the Asur.
“Yes, the Asur had physical similarities with Gandhi. There is nothing called Father of Nation and we do not consider Gandhi as father of the nation,” the Hindu Mahasabha leader said.
The police had changed the getup of Asura by removing the glasses and putting a mustache and hair on it.
The attempt to show a Gandhiji-like figure in poor light was criticised by all major political parties.
State Congress leader Kasustav Bagchi had filed a police complaint against the organisers at Titagarh Police Station under Barrackpore Police Commissionerate. Mr. Bagchi said that such an attempt to paint Mahatma Gandhi in poor light was detrimental to national integrity and amounts to sedition.
CPI(M) State Secretary Md. Salim took to Twitter on Sunday and sought the intervention of the Kolkata Police and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the issue. “Our father of the nation, #MahatmaGandhi was shown as an “Asura” in one of the pandals in Kolkata on #GandhiJayanti2022. Urging @KolkataPolice & @MamataOfficial to take serious cognizance of this matter and penalize the miscreants,” Mr. Salim had said sharing the photograph of the Puja Pandal’s idol.
Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said that incident was a “height of indecency”, which has exposed the real face of the BJP. Mr. Ghosh said that the entire world respects Gandhiji and his ideology and such an insult to Mahatma Gandhi cannot be accepted.
State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar too joined the issue saying the Father of Nation cannot be depicted in such an objectionable manner.
The development had triggered outrage on social media with many sharing photographs of the idol and asking authorities to intervene in the matter.
Attempts to depict social evils as Asura (demon) has happened in the Durga Puja of the city over the past several years. Over the past few years, some organisers had tried to draw parallels between the COVID-19 pandemic and the Asur. However, the depiction of Mahatma Gandhi in an objectionable way has left a poor taste this festival season.