Punish BJP On Voting Day: Bengal Rages Over Broken Vidyasagar Bust
BJP workers are said to have smashed the statue of Bengal icon Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar. 
BJP workers are said to have smashed the statue of Bengal icon Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar. (Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Punish BJP On Voting Day: Bengal Rages Over Broken Vidyasagar Bust

The Lok Sabha election campaign in Kolkata has taken a violent turn. On Tuesday, 14 May, clashes broke out as BJP President Amit Shah took out a rally in the city.

BJP workers and the student wing of Trinamool Congress clashed on Kolkata’s College Street, and at some point of time, BJP workers allegedly barged into the Vidyasagar College and smashed a bust of Bengal icon Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar.

While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is slated to hold a rally in Kolkata on Wednesday, to protest against the violence and the destruction of the statue, the BJP has alleged that Trinamool Congress workers smashed the statue to gain sympathy and create unrest during Shah’s rally.

Mamata Banerjee and many TMC party men added Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar’s image to their Twitter accounts in protest.

This comes at a time when the BJP and TMC are in a neck-and-neck battle for the 42 seats in West Bengal.

The incident has angered the Bengalis and many took to Twitter and held BJP responsible for attack on their history and culture. The TMC got a chance to invoke Bengali nationalism and attack the BJP.

Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar holds a high place in every Bengali’s heart. He was one of the key figures of the Bengal Renaissance, his standardised alphabet is used to write the Bengali language even today. He was vocal about the cause of widow remarriage and introduced the practice and pushed for the Widow Remarriage Act XV of 1856 .

‘Ignorant About Bengali Culture’

TMC MP Derek O’Brien tweeted, “How little you know about Bengal, its rich history, its culture. Bengal will never forgive for what you did today.”

Professor Garga Chatterjee called the goons ‘BJP’s outsider gutkha gang’.

Writer Nilanjana Roy also tweeted against the incident. “The goons don't even know what they're vandalising,” she said.

Journalist Sagarika Ghose said vandalising the statue is an affront to every Bengali. “Whoever did it is ignorant of or does not care about Bengal and its spirit.” she tweeted.

Writer Richa Singh said BJP’s act of vandalising the statue “shows their inner bigotry and disrespect for vernacular cultures.”

‘Act Reflects Hindutva Reactionary Ideology’

West Bengal Congress candidate Ranajit Mukherjee said the act holds true to their Hindutva reactionary ideology. “The RSS would have opposed Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's reform movement if they had existed in the same time frame.” he said.

One Twitter user said Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar was opposed by Hindu orthodoxy.
“No wonder why RSS cultured goons broke #Vidyasagar bust,” he tweeted.

Bengal Must Remember This

Journalist Rifat Jawaid said he had never seen such disturbing scenes targeting colleges in his life in Kolkata. “Hope Bengali bhadrolok remember this on 19 May,” he added.

Many Twitter users echoed the thought.

‘Punish BJP on polling day’, said one Twitter user.

‘Bengal Pride Against BJP’s Barbarism’

“Try breaking this,” said journalist Arunava Sinha, tweeting a picture of the Bengali alphabet system, Barna Parichay, prepared by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, with which Bengalis learn their alphabet.

Journalist Swati Chaturvedi tweeted, “ It is now Bengal pride against the barbarism of the BJP.”

“This is an insensate assault to the inclusive ideology that was preserved in Bengal for years now,” said Twitter user Radhika Burman.

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