GUWAHATI: Assam’s BJP-led coalition government has courted controversy after a West Bengal-based singer was removed from the theme song video of Namami Barak festival, conducted to pay tribute to Barak River in the state.
The singer, Subha Prasad Nandi Majumdar, has been removed from the video, created to mark the three-day festival to be organised by the state government at Silchar from November 18, reportedly because he is a staunch Communist.
Majumdar had lent his voice to the theme song, only to learn later that the portion involving his voice and video had been struck out.
Enraged by the humiliation meted out to the artiste, Ajay Kumar Roy, General Secretary of Sammilita Sanskritik Mancha in Silchar, a conglomerate of 34 cultural organisations, has resigned from the post.
Roy categorically stated that artistes should be weighed by their prowess. “I thought it is a public festival, but now I see a different colour being added to it. Why did you make Majumdar sing and then ditch him, when you know who he is? He has been deliberately humiliated,” Roy said.
Majumdar too said he lent his voice to the song believing it represented a public festival and not a political party. “Everyone knows I am a Leftist and a strong critic of the BJP. Now that it has happened, I think intolerance has triumphed. On Tuesday, a lot of people from Assam, Tripura and abroad messaged me on Facebook saying they were deeply hurt,” he said.
“Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi were poles apart politically; they never agreed on major political issues. But Tagore called Gandhi ‘Mahatma’ and Gandhi called Tagore ‘Gurudev’. The world has known India for such pluralism. Sadly, India of that pluralism is being killed. It is more dangerous for Assam because the state is multilingual, multicultural and multireligious,” Majumdar told The New Indian Express.
Debajit Saha of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa fame, who is the song’s composer, said, “I don’t want to comment on this. He was recorded. For some reason, that portion was removed. I don’t know why.”
A senior bureaucrat looking after the festival’s preparation claimed that there was no politics involved. “There are technical aspects such as track, sound and voice, based on which a singer is roped in. It is wrong to presume that the portion involving Majumdar was removed because he is a Communist. There are many others who have sung the song; they could be people with affiliation to the Congress or Trinamool Congress. They are there (in the video),” the official argued.
The theme song was jointly sung by 16 singers including singer Subhamita Banerjee and Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Babul Supriyo, both from West Bengal. The rest of the singers are from Assam.