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.”
Desperate BJP goons from outside Bengal smash statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar inside the college.Violent mob of BJP ‘outsiders’ in presence of Pukeworthy Shah. How little you know about Bengal, its rich history, its culture. Bengal will never forgive for what you did today. https://t.co/WrFXP6bmJl— Derek O'Brien | ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) May 14, 2019
Professor Garga Chatterjee called the goons ‘BJP’s outsider gutkha gang’.
In BJP ruled MP, Subhas Bose's statue was blackened by BJP. In Tripura, statues of Rabindranath & Sukanto destroyed by BJP. In Bihar, Rabindra Chowk renamed Atal Chowk. In Bengal, BJP's outsider Gutkha gang destroyed Statue of #Vidyasagar at #VidyasagarCollege. #AntiBengalBJP— Garga Chatterjee (@GargaC) May 15, 2019
Writer Nilanjana Roy also tweeted against the incident. “The goons don't even know what they're vandalising,” she said.
Ishwar Chandra #Vidyasagar, the great educationist, the man who changed the Bengali alphabet and type, Sanskrit scholar, reformer who brought in the Widow Remarriage Act and fought for women's education against Hindu orthodoxy. The goons don't even know what they're vandalising. https://t.co/41LyRK6uKN— Nilanjana Roy (@nilanjanaroy) May 15, 2019
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.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a reformer, scholar and exemplar of the Bengal renaissance. Vandalising his statue is an affront to every Bengali, and shows that whoever did it is ignorant of or does not care about Bengal and its spirit— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) May 14, 2019
Writer Richa Singh said BJP’s act of vandalising the statue “shows their inner bigotry and disrespect for vernacular cultures.”
I would rather believe the students more than any politician. And they have spoken that BJP goons attacked their premises.— richa singh (@richa_singh) May 15, 2019
Though I highly doubt BJP knew who #Vidyasagar was - their 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.
For the BJP to bring down a statue of India's greatest reformer actually 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.— Ranajit Mukherjee রণজিৎ মুখার্জী (@RanajitSpeaks) May 14, 2019
One Twitter user said Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar was opposed by Hindu orthodoxy.
“No wonder why RSS cultured goons broke #Vidyasagar bust,” he tweeted.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was an educationist. He changed the Bengla alphabet, Was a scholar and social reformer who fought for the Widow Remarriage Act and women's education. He was opposed by Hindu orthodoxy.— Ravi Nair (@t_d_h_nair) May 15, 2019
No wonder why RSS cultured goons broke #Vidyasagar bust pic.twitter.com/Snm6uSCza8
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.
My heart bleeds looking at this & other visuals. My own Bangabasi College and Calcutta University are literally five minutes away from Vidyasagar College. Never seen such disturbing scenes targeting colleges in my life in Kolkata. Hope Bengali bhadrolok remember this on 19 May. https://t.co/SaKFwH2gJ1— Rifat Jawaid (@RifatJawaid) May 14, 2019
Many Twitter users echoed the thought.
Anti Bangali party BJP today broke the statue of Sri Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar! One of our greatest icon!— Dwaipayan Mitra (@DwaipayanM) May 14, 2019
We should never forget this day and punish them for insulting us!
‘Punish BJP on polling day’, said one Twitter user.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar is no less than Swami Vivekananda for us— Sid (@sidmtweets) May 14, 2019
I appeal to every Bengali ,punish BJP on polling day for doing this
A murder accused like @AmitShah has no respect for our culture he only wants power at the cost of breaking down our culture pic.twitter.com/ySjtQlsvG3
‘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.”
Shah has done himself no favours. it is now Bengal pride against the barbarism of the BJP https://t.co/nf5KlYj3YY— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) May 15, 2019
“This is an insensate assault to the inclusive ideology that was preserved in Bengal for years now,” said Twitter user Radhika Burman.
The devastation of the Vidyasagar statue and vehemence with the students has chagrined the ethos of Bengal. This is an insensate assault to the inclusive ideology that was preserved in Bengal for years now. Mr.modi you still claim yourself a tagore follower? ? (1/n) pic.twitter.com/F1DxtNFSlC— Radhika Barman?? (@RadhikaBarman5) May 14, 2019
. Read more on Social Dangal by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsPunish BJP On Voting Day: Bengal Rages Over Broken Vidyasagar Bust . Read more on Social Dangal by The Quint.