Pakistani Ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali thanked West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday for ending his ‘udasi ka din’, as he performed in front of a packed audience at Netaji Indoor Stadium.
This is Ali’s first show in the country since his concerts in Mumbai and Pune were cancelled following protests by the Shiv Sena in October last year.
Banerjee had then expressed her disgust over cancellation of the concerts and extended an invitation to Ali to perform in Kolkata. Her invitation was also designed to send out the message that the singer had no reason to fear a saffron backlash.
“Aj mera udasi ka din khatm hua hai. Mai Mamata Banerjee ko uske liye dhanyavad de raha hu,” he said. Earlier, following the cancellation of his shows in Maharashtra, he had said: “I am not angry, but very hurt . I have always got love in India.”
Outside the venue, there was a big chaos. Many persons carrying invitation cards could not enter the venue as it was already packed. Many of them got involved in scuffles with the police.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, also present on the dais, thanked Banerjee saying. “In Mumbai, we lost all hopes. We thank Mamata ji for we have a chance to listen to Ghulam Ali here.”
CM Mamata Banerjee used this occasion to preach ‘tolerance’. She quoted from Swami Vivekananda to prove her point of practising tolerance and asked, “How would we survive without tolerance?”
“An artist has no borders. Music has no borders. An artist belongs to the whole world,” she said, adding, “Kolkata loves you and would like to see you again.”
Over the past two months, while speaking on ‘intolerance’, she has criticised several times the attitude of those that caused the cancellation of Ali’s concerts.
Incidentally, his programme in Kolkata triggered a storm in the cyberspace with many followers of the saffron camp criticising the Bengal chief minister’s invitation to a Pakistan-based singer soon after the Pathankot attacks.