Coming Republic Day, railways minister Mamata Banerjee plans to deal one more crucial blow on her political opponents in West Bengal.
While the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government is not sending a state tableau for this year’s republic day as well, Banerjee has seized the opportunity of representing Bengal.
The Railways tableau will be showcased in a ‘saloon’ (special carriage) on which Rabindranath Tagore often travelled from Howrah to Bolpur, while 20 students of the Vishwa Bharati – the university established by the Nobel laureate — will present a song and dance recital.
“Tagore belongs to the world, not to India or Bengal. On his 150th birth anniversary, it is appropriate that the Railways should honour him in this manner,” Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyaya said.
But the reasoning does not seem to have gone down too well with officials committee of the defence ministry, which oversees the R-Day preparations.
At this month’s committee meeting, defence ministry officials remained unconvinced about the theme of the railways tableau and wanted to know what Tagore had to do with the Railways.
“The argument is specious. Six poems of the “Geetanjali” – the anthology that got Tagore the Nobel prize — were penned during the course of his train journeys. These issues will get sorted out at the sixth committee meeting, scheduled in January first week”, a senior railways official said.
“None can have objections with Tagore, but one’s apprehensions are about the “surrogate political messages” that railways tableau might seek to propagate. It is no secret that Banerjee has been using the railways ministry for the upcoming assembly polls in Bengal,” CPM leader Mohammed Salim said.