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Birsa Munda statue: Garlanding row may backfire on BJP in West Bengal

Union Home Minister Amit Shah paying tributes to tribal leader Birsa Munda (File Photo, Image credit: HT Bangla)

Union Home Minister Amit Shah paying tributes to tribal leader Birsa Munda (File Photo, Image credit: HT Bangla)

Kolkata: The reported garlanding of the statue of an unknown tribal leader instead of Birsa Munda in Bankura of West Bengal by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday has exposed the poor planning and lack of homework on the part of West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Besides it has raised questions as to why this entire trip was so hurriedly planned when elections are due in next summer. Political observers are of the view that instead of making political capital of the visit the BJP may end up losing the support of crucial Adivasi votes in Jungle Mahal area of the state. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Adivasi organisations have come down heavily on the BJP and the Union Home Minister. The Bharat Jakat Majhi Pargana Mahal has termed it as an insult to Birsa Munda, whom they worship as Bhagwan.

Meanwhile the ruling Trinamool Congress was quick to criticize Shah alleging that the latter hardly knows anything about Bengal. The embarrassing incident provided the Trinamool leadership the fodder to attack the BJP and calling Amit Shah and BJP ‘outsiders’.

On the other hand, to contain the damage, BJP leaders said that the Home Minister had not garlanded the little-known tribal leader but he had garlanded a portrait of Birsa Munda kept at the foot of the statue.

Amit Shah, after his visit to Bankura, tweeted on Thursday: “Paid floral tributes to legendary tribal leader Bhagwan Birsa Mundaji in Bankura, West Bengal today. Birsa Mundaji’s life was dedicated to the rights and upliftment (sic) of our tribal sisters and brothers.”

It needs to be mentioned that Birsa Munda was a tribal freedom fighter and a leader of the Munda community. He led his community against the British in 1899-1900. He died in the year 1900. The community numbers a little more than three and a half lakhs in West Bengal. It has a big population in Jharkhand and Odisha too.

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