To reach out to Bengali intellectuals and shed the “outsider” tag, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday spent over two hours at the Visva-Bharati University (VBU) in Santiniketan to pay homage to Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Santiniketan, a neighbourhood of Bolpur, was founded and developed by members of the Tagore family. Tagore had set up Visva-Bharati (now Visva-Bharati University) in 1921.
After arriving in a helicopter from Kolkata, Shah, who was greeted by Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty at the helipad, first visited Rabindra Bhavan where he paid floral tributes to a statue of Tagore. After a guided tour of the Uttarayan complex where Tagore lived when he was in Santiniketan, Shah went to the ‘Upasana Griha’ (prayer hall).
Shah later visited Sangeet Bhavan where a cultural performance was held in his honour. The Union Home Minister then went to Bangladesh Bhavan to address faculty members of the university.
He said Tagore’s teachings should spread across the world, helping Indian culture achieve international acclaim through his works.
“Tagore has not only enriched the philosophy and literature of India but also made Santiniketan a base for connecting Indian culture with that of many other countries. Tagore’s teachings say that the purpose of education is to overcome narrowness and know the truth. I firmly believe that it was not the Nobel prize that acknowledged Tagore’s works but it was his works that acknowledged the Nobel prize,” Shah told reporters after his visit. The vice-chancellor felicitated Shah with a shawl and a photograph of Tagore.
After the university, Shah had a traditional Bengali lunch at folk singer Basudeb Das Baul’s house in Syambati area. A baul performance was held in his honour after the lunch session. He was accompanied by senior BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya, Mukul Roy, Dilip Ghosh, Rahul Sinha and Anupam Hazra.
“Bauls are the perfect reflection of our rich and versatile Bengali culture, best known for their songs and poems to God who dwells within. Thank you Basudeb Das ji for your incredible hospitality, I am truly mesmerised,” tweeted Shah.
On Saturday, the minister had lunch at a farmer’s house in West Midnapore district as part of his strategy to reach out to the common people ahead of the Assembly elections due next year.
During his November visit to the state, he had lunch at the residence of a tribal BJP worker in Bankura district and the house of a Matua community member in North 24 Parganas district.