Billboards with Amartya Sen’s comment on Ram in Kolkata

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. DH file photo

The debate and political tug-of-war over the slogan of Jai Shri Ram in West Bengal took a new turn with several billboards being put up in Kolkata displaying Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s recent remarks over the slogan.

The billbioards with photos of smiling Sen have been put up in at key intersections of the city also state that they have been put up by “Nagarik Brindo” (Citizens in Bengali).

“I have never heard Jai Shri Ram slogan(in Bengal). Nowadays it is being used to beat up people. I don’t think it has any connection with the culture of Bengal. I have asked my four-year-old granddaughter who is her favourite god and her answer was “Maa Durga.” There cannot be any comparison between Maa Durga and Ram Navami,” stated the poster quoting Sen. The Nobel Laureate had made the remarks recently at a conference in the city.

The billboards have been attributed to “citizens” but, they do not reveal the identity of those who have put them up.

The development drew cheers from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leadership. However, senior TMC leader and state’s Urban Development Firhad Hakim denied the involvement of the party.

“The billboards have been put up by members of the civil society. We are proud of Amartya Sen and are not bothered about what BJP thinks of him,” said Hakim.

The state BJP leaders have attacked Sen in many instances, stating that since he lives abroad most of the time, he is not aware of what is happening in Bengal.

The slogan of Jai Shri Ram have kicked up a storm in West Bengal since the Lok Sabha elections when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lost her cool a couple of times as some people raised the slogan when her convoy was passing by.

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