Hours before news trickled in that Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen was taken to BJP-ruled Rajasthan from West Bengal, the BJP criticised the ruling Left Front in West Bengal for asking her to leave Kolkata and demanded that she be granted permanent visa. Nasreen’s visa is valid till February 17.
BJP’s deputy leader in Lok Sabha VK Malhotra said the statement made by Left Front Chairman Biman Bose that she should leave the state was “improper” if the government is genuinely committed to uphold freedom of expression.
Malhotra was reacting to Bose’s comment that Nasreen should leave Kolkata if her stay disrupts peace in the state.
Bose’s remarks came after the violence in central Kolkata during a shutdown called by All India Minority Forum demanding cancellation of visa of the Bangladeshi writer. Malhotra also asked intellectuals siding with the Left, who always supported literature that hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus in the “name” of freedom of expression, to speak up and oppose the “expulsion” of Nasreen.
The BJP wanted that Nasreen be granted permanent visa and asylum in the country similar to that of Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Meanwhile, Congress steered clear of the issue of Nasreen’s visa, saying it was a matter for the Ministry of External Affairs to decide.
“These are matters regulated by Cabinet procedures and decided by the Ministry of External Affairs,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters here. Singhvi said that only an expression of opinion on Nasreen’s stay in West Bengal has been made so far and the Union government can consider the issue only after a formal requisition is forwarded by the state. “It is not a decision for the Congress to take directly or indirectly,” he added.
“The state government does not have the authority to grant or cancel visa. Only the Centre can do this. Let the Union government take an appropriate decision on the issue,” Bose said.
(With inputs from PTI)