Be on Guard Against Forces Trying to Wipe Out Bengal's Rich History, Culture: Partha Chatterjee

File photo of West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee. (PTI Photo)

File photo of West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee. (PTI Photo)

Chatterjee said that the force which razed the statue of Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar to the ground continues to make attempts 'obliterate' the heritage and culture of Bengal.

West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee on Saturday urged people to be on guard against "forces that had been trying to wipe out the state's rich history", as he raked up the issue of Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar's bust desecration last year to support his claim.

Chatterjee, who was addressing a programme at Vidyasagar Academy here on the occasion of the polymath's 200th birth anniversary, also said that the force which razed the statue to the ground continues to make attempts "obliterate" the heritage and culture of Bengal.

A bust of Vidyasagar was vandalized here in May 2019 at a college named after him, when clashes broke out during a road show led by the then BJP president Amit Shah, ahead of the final phase of Lok Sabha elections. Both the TMC and the saffron party had blamed each other for the incident.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had installed a new bust in place of the old one, a month later.

"We will never forget how a party, driven by religious-based politics, vandalised a statue of the educationist, just months before the commencement of Vidyasagar's bicentenary birth celebrations.

"They want to erase names of Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Bankimchandra Chatterjee, Madhusudan Dutt from history books. But can they strike off names of our luminaries from the pages of history? No, they can't," he asserted.

The education minister further expressed dismay over the exclusion of Bengali from the list of classical languages in the National Education Policy 2020.

"Can Tagore, whose songs have been made national anthems of two countries, be made oblivious to the next generation! Can they make irrelevant the literary works of Sirshendu Mukherjee, Joy Goswami, Abul Basar?" Chatterjee, who is also the TMC secretary general, said.

Alleging that efforts were being to "rewrite the history of Bengal", the minister called upon everyone to be on guard against any effort "to attack the culture of the state".

Sharing the plans devised by the state government to honour the social reformer, he said a library will be set up at Vidyasagar Academy -- which also happens to be the educationist's residence in the city -- and books, letters and manuscripts penned by him would be put up for display.

He further said that the government will bestow a 'science olympiad' scholarship of Rs 1,000 on meritorious students of Class 9 in state-run and state-aided schools for a period of two years.

Earlier, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in a brief video message, remembered the pioneering works of Vidyasagar, and lauded the academy for its efforts to preserve the legacy of the educationist.

Born on this day in 1820 at Birsingha village in Medinipur, Vidyasagar is widely known for his social reform movements during the mid-19th century. He had also worked for emancipation of women, and made significant contributions to simplify and modernise Bengali language.

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