KOLKATA: Apparently hinting at the BJP, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday claimed that a group of "politically-blind giants" had vandalised a bust of Bengal Renaissance icon Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar before the Lok Sabha polls in Kolkata, and said his birthplace would be made an educational and tourist hub.
Those who desecrated the bust of Vidyasagar had intended to make people forget the state's culture, she said at Birsingha village, the birthplace of the social and educational reformer, in Paschim Medinipur district.
A bust of the 19th century educational and social reformer was vandalised during clashes between workers of the Trinamool Congress and the BJP when the saffron party president Amit Shah was holding a roadshow in Kolkata on May 14 before the Lok Sabha elections.
Both the parties accused each other of desecrating the bust.
"Those who vandalised the bust of Vidyasagar may not know who he was. They just went there and broke it. They did not know that it was not just a statue. It represented an age, a history and a culture. You cannot destroy everything by vandalising a statue," Banerjee said.
The chief minister was addressing a gathering after launching a year-long celebration to mark the 200th birth anniversary of Vidyasagar from his birthplace at Birsingha.
"Vidyasagar inspired people to give up superstition and embrace the path of progress. He led the movement against child marriage and for institutionalising widow-remarriage. And a group of wayward, insane and politically blind giants broke his bust intending to make people forget the culture of the state," she said.
Paying her respects at Vidyasagar's ancestral house, where the 19th century icon was born on September 26, 1820, the chief minister said, "We will develop Birsingha village as an educational and tourist hub, just like Santiniketan or Jorasanko," she said.
Santiniketan, a town about 212 kilometre north of Kolkata, where Rabindranath Tagore set up a university.
The place attracts thousands of visitors every year. Jorasanko is a locality in north Kolkata where the Tagore family had their ancestral house. A part of it is now being used for holding classes of Rabindra Bharati University.
Banerjee also inaugurated several government schemes and projects during the programme.