Bermuda to Pak: TMC and BJP leaders’ remarks stir up a row

On Thursday, Ghosh said his earlier remarks were an attempt at defending the honor of the saree that all Bengali women wear.
Activists of the Congress and the Left parties participate in the last campaign rally for the United Front candidate before the first phase of West Bengal's state legislative assembly election in Purulia, some 325 km west of Kolkata on March 25, 2021. (AFP)
Activists of the Congress and the Left parties participate in the last campaign rally for the United Front candidate before the first phase of West Bengal's state legislative assembly election in Purulia, some 325 km west of Kolkata on March 25, 2021. (AFP)
Published on Mar 26, 2021 03:06 AM IST
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By HT Correspondent, Kolkata

Controversial remarks by leaders across political lines continued to intensify the poll battle in West Bengal on Thursday. While the Bharatiya Janata Party’s West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh sought to defend his “Bermuda shorts” remark about chief minister Mamata Banerjee, backlash against Trinamool Congress leader Sheikh Alam’s comment on the state’s Muslim population prompted him to issue an apology.

On Thursday, Ghosh said his earlier remarks were an attempt at defending the honor of the saree that all Bengali women wear.

Speaking to reporters, Ghosh said, “As chief minister, Mamata Banerjee should act appropriately so that Bengal’s culture is not affected. A woman in a saree should not be showing her legs. People are talking about this. I only raised my objection.”

His justification came a day after the state’s ruling TMC shared a 14-second video of Ghosh’s Purulia rally, in which he could be heard saying that the CM should wear Bermuda shorts if she wanted to display the injuries sustained on her leg during a roadshow on March 10.

“Her (Banerjee’s) plaster was replaced with crepe bandage. But she is still showing her leg to everyone. She is wearing her saree in such a way that one leg is visible while the other is not. I have never seen anyone wearing saree like this. If she has to show her leg then she can wear Bermudas so that people can see clearly,” Ghosh said.

The TMC called the remarks distasteful and lodged a complaint with the Election Commission of India, accusing Ghosh of using indecent language against the chief minister.

The row, however, escalated as BJP leaders came out in Ghosh’s defence. The head of BJP’s information technology cell, Amit Malviya, shared a video on Thursday in which Banerjee could be heard making personal comments about BJP leaders. (Have we seen the video? What did Mamata say in the video?)

The TMC courted controversy after Alam, a village level leader of the party, said at a public meeting in Birbhum district that “four Pakistan can be created if India’s 30 per cent Muslims unite”. A video of the incident has been widely circulated on social media.

“The BJP always talks of 30 % Muslims. If they are segregated, four Pakistans will be created. Where will the remaining 70 % go?” Alam could be heard saying in the video.

Later in the day, however, Alam issued an apology. “I was referring to Adhikari’s statement on 30% Muslims in Nandigram. He says he will fight with the support of 70 % voters. I meant to say that if this 30% people are driven out of India, four Pakistans have to be created. I did not mean we want to create four Pakistans in India. I apologize if I have hurt anyone,” Alam said.

The BJP, however, lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, even as the TMC distanced itself from Alam. “He is not a member of our party,” the TMC’s Birbhum district unit president Anubrata Mondal said.

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Monday, October 18, 2021