Other States

Mamata, BJP spar again over Birsa Munda

Raising the issue of Union Home Minister Amit Shah garlanding the “wrong statue” instead of that of Birsa Munda during his recent visit to West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday alleged that the Home Minister has insulted the iconic adivasi leader and freedom fighter.

Speaking at a public meeting at Khatna in Bankura district, Ms. Banerjee said: “What else did he do... he came and garlanded a statue.. then you people told us that it is not Birsa Munda — it is statue of a tribal hunter; I respect hunters too. But why are you [the BJP] lying? You cannot break the statue of Vidyasagar and garland another statue claiming that of Rabindranath Tagore. It’s not acceptable to garland a wrong statue claiming that it is of Birsa Munda.”

The Union Home Minister had visited the district on November 5 and garlanded a statue which he claimed was that of Birsa Munda. However, locals said the statue was that of a tribal hunter and not of the adivasi leader. Later Mr Shah had had lunch at a tribal household.

The Chief Minister said she would ask the people to erect a statue of Birsa Munda in Khatna. “On the part of the government, I announce Birsa Munda’s birth anniversary as State holiday from next calendar. This is in order to show our respect,” she said.

Taking a swipe at Mr. Shah for having lunch at a tribal house, Ms. Banerjee alleged that it was stage managed and the food was brought from outside from five star hotels. “For cameras they made the women chop coriander and vegetables but he [Home Minister] never had them. He had basmati rice,” the Chief Minister alleged.

Ms. Banerjee, who was on her first trip to the district with a significant tribal population after the outbreak of COVID-19, also visited a village and listened to issues raised by the residents. She also announced a new scheme from January 2021, taking the State run schemes to the doorsteps of the people. The Chief Minister also told people that many political parties would approach them, even send them money in their accounts ahead of the Assembly elections. She urged the people to take the money but not to vote for these parties.

Following the Chief Minister’s remarks, the State BJP in a statement said, “Instead of empowering our tribal brethren, the TMC is playing politics over the statue of Bhagwan Birsa Munda, even though it has been conclusively established that the statue was of Bhagwan Birsa Munda.”

“We want to ask the Chief Minister why after nine-and-a-half years she has to take her schemes to the people’s doorsteps. What was the State government doing all these years,” said Subhas Sarkar, BJP MP from Bankura. Dr. Sarkar also alleged that the Chief Minister has misused official machinery to hold a political meeting.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 7:21:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mamata-bjp-spar-again-over-birsa-munda/article33166304.ece

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