Kolkata: Billboards with photographs of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen containing his remarks dubbing the ‘Jai Sri Ram’ slogan as alien to Bengali culture and being used to beat up people have appeared on key Kolkata street intersections.
“I have never heard the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan before. It is being used to thrash sections of people. I feel this slogan is alien to Bengal’s culture,” reads the billboard, quoting Sen’s comments made during an interaction at the Jadavpur University on January 5.
The billboards also quote Sen’s remarks that he had asked his four-year-old grandchild about her favourite deity.
“She took a while and said: “Maa Durga, So, the stature that Maa Durga enjoys here cannot be compared to Ram Navami”.
On the billboards there is a claim that these have been put up by citizens of the city, but it says nothing about the identity of those citizens.
The billboards are painted in blue and white – the favourite colours of Trinamool supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The Trinamool has denied its involvement in putting up the bill boards but welcomed the comments.
State Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim claimed the civil society and citizens of Bengal have displayed the billboards and praised the endeavour.
“Amartya Sen is the pride of Bengal and pride of India. The BJP leadership does not believe it but we are not even concerned about it,” Hakim told journalists.
Hakim claimed that the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan was being used in a divisive manner to insult the people in the state.
The slogan has occupied the centre stage of politics in Bengal in recent times, with the BJP activists raising it before the Chief Minister, triggering an angry reaction from her on several occasions.
To counter the BJP, the Trinamool has been raising the slogans ‘Jai Bangla’ and ‘Jai Hind’ across the state.