QRant: When It Comes to Freedom of Speech, Is Didi Better Than PM?

Didi, is freedom of speech only meant to be upheld when the said speech is not against you?

2 min read

Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

Have you ever heard of a movie releasing in the theatres, getting housefull audiences and then mysteriously being pulled off screens just 2 days later?

Well, that's what has happened in Mamata Banerjee's West Bengal.

When the directors of the aforementioned movie – Bhobhishyoter Bhoot – which allegedly has some portions against the Trinamool Congress, approached the cinema halls, they were told that some "higher authorities" had asked them VERBALLY to take it off screens.

Now, who in Bengal is powerful enough to make a contract null and void by just making a phone call?

Take a guess!

(Hint: The director of the movie had a showdown with Mamata Banerjee in November 2018.)

This is not the first time that this kind of censorship has happened in Bengal under the Trinamool Congress.

Remember Ambikesh Mahapatra, a Jadavpur University professor who was arrested for drawing a caricature of Mamata Banerjee?

Or, the time in 2011, when the state government had said that only certain newspapers can be kept in government libraries?

What is funny is that this is the same Mamata Banerjee who, during the Padmavati controversy had said that if nowhere else, the movie would be allowed to be screened in Bengal.

So Didi, why this hypocrisy? Is freedom of speech only meant to be upheld when the said speech is not against you?

Time and again, you have blamed the right-wing and the Modi government for curbing freedom of speech, and for targeting journalists.

But, how are we to see you as a viable alternative, when you do the exact same thing that he does? When the state government in Bengal has mouthpieces in the local media just like the BJP in the national media?

Where is the ‘poriborton’ (change)? The politics of difference?

Because at this point, the only difference seems to be in the names of your political parties and the ‘communal versus secular’ divide.

Actions are same to same!

Therefore, before the 2019 elections, here's a humble request from one Bengali to another. Please stop insulting our intelligence. If we can question BJP's censorship tactics, we can surely see through yours too. And just because we are stuck between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, it doesn't mean we won't raise our voices against both.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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