A day after Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s statement on intolerance and a “new development” in West Bengal in which people were purportedly being forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram”, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Saturday took a dig at the economist by saying that he “probably does not know Bengal”, and that people are being beaten up, and even killed, in the state for saying Jai Shri Ram.
The BJP leader said, “In Bengal, if someone says Jai Shri Ram he is being murdered. India is progressing with a new image, while Bengal is walking backwards. There is no democracy here. People do not have the right to speak their mind. Big intellectuals are seeing terror in the chant of Jai Shri Ram. They are saying people are lynched for not chanting Jai Shri Ram.”
But Amartya Sen, he said, “probably does not now Bengal. He stays abroard and he should stay there. Jai Shri Ram is chanted in every village – now entire Bengal says it.”
Ghosh, who was speaking at an event organised as part of a BJP membership drive in the state, also said, “Hundreds of our workers have been murdered in Bengal. Bengal is reeling under cut money and syndicate systems. We have to get rid of this menace.”
Ghosh’s remarks come on a day the state BJP accused ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) “goons” of assaulting a BJP supporter in Nadia district allegedly for saying “Jai Shri Ram”. The man, identified as Krishna Debnath, was beaten up on Wednesday night, and succumbed to injuries at a Kolkata hospital on Friday night, the police said on Saturday.
Trinamool Congress leaders dismissed the BJP leader’s comments. Senior TMC leader and state’s Urban Development minister Firhad Hakim said, “Dilip Ghosh has suddenly cropped up in Bengal politics. He is not aware of Bengal’s culture. If tomorrow Dilip Ghosh says Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore did not know Bengal, or that Mother Teresa did not know Kolkata, will the people believe him?”
Senior TMC leader Purnendu Bose said, “We stand by what Amarya Sen has said.”
On Friday, Sen, addressing an event at Jadavpur University, had said, “It ( Jai Shri Ram slogan) is now used to beat up people. I think it has no association with Bengali culture. I have never heard of Ram Navami before…”