Kolkata’s intellectuals turn down BJP’s invite

On the job: BJP chief Amit Shah during an event in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

The big names in Kolkata’s world of art or culture have refused to meet BJP president Amit Shah. They include thespian Soumitra Chatterjee, former Supreme Court Judge Ashok Ganguly, activist-writer Santosh Rana, theatre stars Rudraprasad Sengupta, Chandan Sen and Manoj Mitra, singer Amar Paul and painter Samir Aich.

Mr. Shah was scheduled to meet many of them on Wednesday at a south Kolkata auditorium. Most of them acknowledged the invite, but are not ready to meet Mr. Shah or attend his lecture on writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay.

The State BJP officials, however, are confident that “hundreds” of the city’s intellectuals will participate in the event. The State BJP has lined up a series of programmes for Mr. Shah, who is coming here for a two-day tour of West Bengal.

Key programme

One of Mr. Shah’s key programmes on Wednesday is a lecture in memory of revered Bengali writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, who penned the national song Vande Mataram. It will be hosted by Delhi-based Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation. Mr. Shah is then scheduled to meet the city’s intellectuals and civil society members.

Actor Soumitra Chatterjee, who was invited to Mr Shah’s programme by BJP’s national secretary Rahul Sinha, turned down the offer to attend both the memorial lecture and the intellectuals’ meet. Associates of the actor said that Mr. Chatterjee expressed his “particular displeasure at the demonetisation and the party’s politics of targeting communities.”

Writer, playwright and theatre director Manoj Mitra said senior BJP leader Mukul Roy met him last week. “He wanted to know more about our work and then invited me to the programme on Bankim Chandra. I found it exciting, but told him I can’t attend,” Mr. Mitra said.

Till Tuesday evening, BJP officials have refused to disclose the names of the prominent people who are likely to attend Mr. Shah’s programme or meet him during his stay here.

“We are expecting 650 intellectuals to attend Mr. Shah’s programme. But we can’t disclose their names now as there is tremendous pressure on them from the ruling party. If we disclose their names now they may be threatened,” said Pankaj Roy, the convener of BJP’s Intellectual Cell in Bengal.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 12:53:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/kolkatas-intellectuals-turn-down-bjps-invite/article24264796.ece

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