Will keep protecting minorities, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday vowed to continue protecting Muslims even if it meant she would lose elections as she unveiled 19th-century social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue around a month after it was desecrated in Kolkata.
Banerjee’s alleged Muslim appeasement was the main theme of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s national election campaign in West Bengal as it increased the tally of its Lok Sabha seats in the state from two in 2014 to 18 seats in 2019. West Bengal has 42 seats in Lok Sabha.
“They often accuse me of Muslim appeasement. But what will I do? Will I drive away Muslims from Bengal? I will never do that. I will continue protecting them, irrespective of whether I stay in power or not. I have struggled throughout my life. I do not care for power. I can leave it any time,” Banerjee said after unveiling the statue.
Vidyasagar’s statue was destroyed after a college named after him was ransacked on May 14 in the violence that followed BJP chief Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata. Both the BJP and Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders blamed each other for vandalising the statue.
Banerjee again lashed out at the BJP for allegedly vandalising the statue.
Banerjee announced her government will construct four bronze statues of Vidyasagar. She said the BJP is trying to convert Bengal into Gujarat.
The BJP rejected Banerjee’s allegations again. “We have demanded a CBI inquiry to find out who actually vandalised the statue,” said BJP’s Bengal unit vice-president, Jay Prakash Majumdar.
Rabindra Bharati University’s political science professor Biswanath Chakraborty said Banerjee is trying an image makeover by portraying herself as a champion of Bengal’s heritage and culture.