Cultural performances greet Amit Shah at Tagore’s Visva Bharati; TMC ups ante

Union home minister Amit’s Shah’s visit to Visva Bharati, West Bengal’s only central university that was set up by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, was marked by song and dance performances by students on Sunday afternoon, even as the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) staged protests against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in Kolkata.

On the second and last day of his Bengal tour, Shah flew from Kolkata to Bolpur in an army chopper and headed straight for Visva Bharati. He was scheduled to attend a political roadshow there.

“I am fortunate that I could visit Visva Bharati and pay homage to a great man who had spread India’s culture, philosophy, knowledge and literature around the globe. Both Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who represented the two main political lines of thought at that time, drew inspiration from Tagore,” Shah told reporters while leaving Visva Bharati, where he spent more than an hour.

While Shah visited Visva Bharati’s music college, the famous prayer hall, the Bangladesh Bhawan and places associated with Tagore and Gandhi — who visited the poet and stayed on campus — teachers and students greeted the Union home minister with a bouquet of 100 red roses, portraits of Tagore and Goddess Durga, and other gifts.

In Kolkata, 160km away, the TMC staged a protest at against placards with images of Shah placed above Tagore that have cropped up across the city. Claiming that the TMC has put up the placards to sabotage Shah’s visit, BJP workers removed them.

TMC leaders, led by Lok Sabha member Sudip Bandopadhyay, set up a podium outside the Tagore family’s palatial home at Jorasanko in north Kolkata and staged a protest thorough speeches and Tagore’s songs. “The placards demeaned Tagore’s rich heritage,” said senior minister Subrata Mukherjee.

Shah, while interacting with journalists at Visva Bharati, projected Tagore as an ambassador of the nation.

“I firmly believe that it was not the Nobel prize that acknowledged Tagore’s works. The Nobel prize found its own acknowledgement by honouring Tagore….It was an honour to visit the rooms where Gurudev Rabindranath and Mahatma Gandhi had lived,” said Shah.

“Through Visva Bharati, Rabindranath Tagore not only preserved the culture, languages of literature of India, he also amalgamated the same from around the world. He is the only person whose compositions became the national anthems of two countries,” Shah added.

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