Kolkata, June 11 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday unveiled a bust of Bengali polymath Iswarchandra Vidyasagar at Kolkata’s Hare School, 28 days after another bust of the 19th century reformer was vandalised at a city college during BJP President Amit Shah’s road show.
Banerjee, who was invited by the West Bengal Department of Higher Education and School Education as well as the Vidyasagar bicentennial celebration committee, paid floral tributes to the statue in the presence of Bengal’s ministers, intellectuals, teachers and students.
The bust was then taken for re-installation at the Vidyasagar College in Bidhan Sarani, where the incident of vandalism had taken place on May 14.
The Trinamool Congress supremo took part in the colourful procession along with celebrities, actors and dignitaries from various fields while hundreds of people gathered and cheered them on and shouted slogans like “Bengal’s icon, Bengal’s pride”.
The bust, made of fibre glass, will be reinstated in the very room in the college where it used to be.
While addressing the gathering at Hare School, Banerjee termed the vandalism on Vidyasagar’s bust as “an attack on Bengal’s culture and traditions” and accused the saffron party of trying to turn “Bengal into Gujarat”.
“The rally was taken out by Amit Shah. He is now the Home Minister. Why the vandalism was allowed? Their men destroyed the bust. We have all the proof. Yet they are lying,” she said.
“By vandalising the bust of Vidyasagar, his work cannot be destroyed. By criticising Raja Ram Mohan Roy they can’t destroy the culture of Bengal. But we must understand that this is a planned attack on our culture, our vision, our history. It’s a conspiracy to destroy Bengal and turn it into Gujarat. It’s a conspiracy to wipe out Bengal’s literature and history. I will not let them succeed till I am alive,” the Trinamool Congress supremo said.
She announced a Rs 50 lakh fund for a museum to be built in the college and said Vidyasagar’s residence in West Midnapore district’s Birshingha village will soon be declared a heritage building by the state government.
Banerjee also announced that statues of four Bengali icons including Vidyasagar will be installed in the area.
“We are building full-length bronze statues of four of our icons — Vidyasagar, Rabindranath Tagore, Asutosh Mukhopadhyay and Kazi Najrul Islam — in the area,” she said.
A bust of Vidyasagar, a noted social reformer known for his invaluable contribution to Bengali literature and who introduced window remarriage in the then tradition-bound society, was vandalised during a clash between Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to build a ‘Panch Dhaatu’ (traditional five metal alloy) statue of Vidyasagar at the same spot but Banerjee turned down the proposal claiming that her government is capable of reinstating the bust on its own.