Narendra Modi refers to Matangini Hazra as an Assam freedom fighter

Gaffe draws protests from Trinamul Congress and CPM and also draws attention to BJP’s disconnection from freedom struggle

Arkamoy Datta Majumdar



Posted on 08.16.21, 01:40 AM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called Matangini Hazra an Assam freedom fighter, making the latest blunder by a BJP leader regarding a Bengal icon.

Modi referred to Matangini Hazra’s “courage in Assam” while reeling off a list of freedom fighters during his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

“(Let it be) respected Bapu who turned the struggle for freedom into a popular movement; or revolutionaries like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, (Ram Prasad) Bismil and Ashfaqulla Khan, who sacrificed everything for freedom; Laxmibai, the queen of Jhansi; Chennamma, the queen of Kittur; Queen Gaidinliu; or the courage of Matangini Hazra in Assam … the country remembers each individual, ”he said.

The gaffe sparked protests from Trinamul Congress and the CPM and also drew attention to the BJP’s disconnect with the freedom struggle.

Hazra, often referred to as Gandhi Buri (Ma Gandhi), was a freedom fighter from Tamluk in what is now East Midnapore District. She was shot dead by colonial police while leading a protest during the Quit India movement, which BJP ancestors opposed.

Trinamul accused the prime minister of insulting and “mocking” Bengal while the PMO said Modi had hurt the feelings of the Bengalis.

“Matangini Hazra is a Bengal freedom fighter, Mr. @narendramodi! With so little respect for our glorious history, you’ve once again insulted everyone in #Bengal, ”Trinamul tweeted from his official account.

“Has @ BJP4India made a commitment to erase our history? Make fun of them as they please? SHAME.”

Hazra was 72 years old when she led a procession of about 6,000 people, mostly female volunteers and activists, to Tamluk Police Station on September 29, 1942, in the face of police fire.

The Biplabi newspaper of the “Tamluk National Government” parallel reported: “Even after the shooting started, she (Hazra) continued to advance with the tricolor, leaving all the volunteers behind. The police shot him three times. She continued to walk despite injuries to her forehead and both hands.

“While she received bullets several times, she kept chanting ‘Vande mataram’…. She died with the Indian National Congress flag held high and still fluttering.

Matangini Hazra's residence in the village of Alinan in the district of East Midnapore

formerly undivided Midnapore, now divided into West Midnapore, East Midnapore and Jhargram.

However, throughout the campaign, BJP leaders dropped click after click in their rush to appropriate Bengal’s historical and cultural heritage – from the description of Santiniketan as the birthplace of Rabindranath Tagore to the confusion between a statue and an unknown hunter and one of the Birsa Munda.

A BJP head of state said he found it surprising that his party’s supreme leader had made such a “reckless” mistake about a Bengal icon like Hazra.

However, the head of the BJP of Bengal, Dilip Ghosh, claimed that it was a “small mistake”.

“You don’t have to detonate it out of proportion. Those who are saddened (stuck) today, what have they done for Matangini Hazra? He asked.

Trinamul State Secretary General Kunal Ghosh searched Suvendu Adhikari, BJP MP for Nandigram and Assembly Leader of the Opposition, who had declared himself a Gandhian until his defection before the elections.

“It’s an insult to Bengal. You (Modi) must ask for an apology. I hope your East Midnapore LOP (Leader of the Opposition) will also condemn such a mistake, ”Ghosh tweeted.

Suvendu used to declare himself an ideological descendant of the Tamil national government of 1942 and its main protagonists – all Gandhians – such as Hazra, Satish Chandra Samanta, Sushil Kumar Dhara and Ajoy Mukherjee.

A native of Contai in eastern Midnapore, Suvendu represented the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat between 2009 and 2016. His brother Dibyendu is the current MP for Tamluk.

Trinamul’s top leader Firhad Hakim attacked the prime minister. “It’s not really his fault — they were educated by the RSS, which doesn’t tell them about real Indian culture. All they know is community polarization, ”Hakim said.

JPC central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said: “The ancestors of the people who run the nation today have made no contribution to our struggle for freedom other than to act as informers of the police (British). The more they learn from RSS, the more blunders they will make. “

Several state BJP leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed deep embarrassment over Modi’s blunder.

“This blunder, which also comes from Modiji himself, is so, so shameful. Our leaders continue to prove to the people that they have no knowledge of Bengal history or culture, ”one said.

He pointed out how after the electoral defeat, the BJP ignored the anniversary of Tagore’s death a week ago after marking the occasion in a big way last year, ahead of the assembly elections.

“So was the whole fervent cult of the Bengal icons and all things Bengal just an attempt to make them their own before the polls?” ” He asked.

Many state BJP leaders believe the party’s blatant ignorance and lack of connection to Bengal history and culture – evidenced by the serial nonsense of star activists – contributed to the election rout. to the Assembly.

Thelma J. Longworth

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