BJP leader threatens Mamata with Surpanakha's fate, Bengal civil society protests
Chandigarh/Kolkata: Haryana BJP leader Suraj Pal Amu on Saturday threatened West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that she would meet the same fate as "Surpanakha", a demoness from the epic Ramayana whose nose was cut off by Lakshman, a day after she asserted her state was ready to welcome Sanjay Leela Bhansali's controversial film "Padmavati" and its crew.
Amu's comments drew flak from Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, as also writers and cultural personalities of Bengal, who described the remarks as "shameful" and "unfortunate".
Addressing a public meeting, Amu refered to the mythological character "Surpanakha".
"I have come to know that Mamata Banerjee is saying Sanjay Leela Bhansali, come to Kolkata. We will welcome you. I say, this is the village of Ramchandra Ji's brother Lakshmanji. And what Laxmanji did to Surpanakha, I don't have to tell you," Amu said, making a gesture of cutting one's nose.
Further egging on the crowd, Amu, also a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Kshatriya Mahasabha, repeated: "Do I need to say? What Lakshman had done, will you do or not?"
In Valmiki's Ramayana, Surpanakha - the sister of Ravana - had proposed toRama and Lakshman, but was spurned by both. In retaliation, she tried to attack Ram's wife Sita, but Lakshman rushed to protect his sister-in-law, and cut off Surpanakha's nose.
Amid the raging controversy over the period drama, Banerjee on Friday had promised to make special arrangements for the screening of "Padmavati" in her state.
"Yes, we would welcome them. They are welcome here if they can't do it in other state. We can make special arrangements. Bengal will be very happy," she said, in response to a query whether her state would welcome the film's crew for a premiere here at a time when a number of states have banned the movie.
An angry Trinamool demanded an apology from Amu.
"The language, and the content of his remarks cannot be condoned. Either he should apologise, or else the people of the state would keep a watch on him, and launch proper protests," its Secretary General Partha Chatterjee said.
Eminent Bengali writer Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay described Ammu's comment as "unfortunate". "I do not know how to protest. Such comments create despair among us. As politicians, they should be more careful about using their words. I do not know why police are not taking any action. Police must take action against such comments," he said.
Educationist Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri said some politicians often cross the limit and forget political ethics.
Poet Subodh Sarkar welcomed the Chief Minister's stand of standing by the director, actor, actresses of the film. "Let people watch the movie and come out with their own opinions. Let historians express their opinions after watching the movie. Threatening the Chief Minister for her comment was shameful. Are they political leaders?" he said.
Theatre personality Debesh Chattopadhyay said threatening people was part of agenda of the BJP and the RSS.
"The more they talk like this, the more their hidden agenda will be exposed. History assures us the people of India would reject and protest such attempts," he said.
Poet Srijato Bandyopadhyay said through such comments, people like Amu were ensuring the "democratic right of cutting of nose".
Bhansali's attempt to bring alive the story of Rajput queen Rani Padmavati on the silver screen with his movie "Padmavati" hasn't gone down well with Hindu groups backed by the BJP. It features Deepika as Rani Padmavati, Shahid Kapoor as her husband and warrior king and Ranveer Singh essays Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji.
Bhansali faced many hiccups while shooting the film, but the protests escalated as the film neared its release date. There are conjectures that it "distorts history" regarding the Rajput queen, though he has denied it repeatedly.