Author Salman Rushdie launched a broadside against West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on friday — claiming through a series of tweets and a press statement that she had personally blocked his planned visit to Kolkata.
Though the CM did not answer the charge, her party leaders did, resulting in war of words that lasted through the day.
Rushdie, who was supposed to appear at the Kolkata Literary Meet (KLM) on January 31 for a discussion on the screen adaptation of his novel Midnight’s Children, claimed Banerjee had instructed the police to "bundle him out in the very next flight" if he stepped into the city.
“I remember after the Jaipur festival last year, Mamata Banerjee said she would not allow me to enter Kolkata. It appears she has made good that threat,” read Rushdie’s statement.
Ever since she came in power, Banerjee has aggressively wooed the Muslims. On January 31, minority community leaders tried to persuade her not to allow Rushdie to enter the city.
“She assured me it would not take place,” Maulana Mufti S M Nurur Rehman Barkati, the Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan mosque had said.
Rushdie took the administration to task for “leaking his itinerary to the media”. He also took on the organisers of the KLM, who, when the controversy broke, claimed they did not invite him. “They actually paid for my plane ticket,” Rushdie tweeted. The organiser, Gameplan, refused to comment.
Senior Trinamool leader Saugata Roy, who claimed Rushdie was "advised as a friend" to skip Kolkata, came in for flak.
“Ridiculous, Saugata Roy. I did not get ‘friendly advice’ to stay away from Kolkata. I was told the police would put me on the next plane out,” Rushdie retorted on Twitter. Another party MP Sultan Ahmed launched another salvo, calling Rushdie a ‘satan’," he said. (With PTI inputs)