Facing attacks from the BJP on how she can call people visiting West Bengal from other states "outsiders", West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that she does not attach that tag to "our countrymen" but is against alleged attempts to impose an alien thought process on the people of India. Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, claimed that attempts are being made to break the backbone and self- pride of Bengal.
Interacting with reporters here in Birbhum district, she asserted that efforts are on to destroy the political fabric of the state by creating disturbances. Banerjee and her party often accuse the BJP of bringing in "outsiders" to the state ahead of the assembly polls due in April-May next year.
Asked about the saffron party questioning how people from other states coming to West Bengal can be termed as outsiders, she said, "We do not term our countrymen as outsiders. Definitely we all can go to any state. "What we are saying is that our culture is that of Indianness and not the alien thought process they are propagating," the chief minister said without elaborating.
Banerjee claimed that attempts are being made to break the foundation of all institutions and centres of culture and knowledge in the country, "from Pondicherry to Nalanda University to Jawaharlal Nehru University", by people who, she said, do not know anything about Rabindranath Tagore. Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently visited Visva- Bharati university set up by Tagore near Bolpur where she held an administrative meeting before talking to the media.
"Efforts are on to break the backbone, self-pride and history of Bengal. Efforts are on to disrespect the culture of Bengal by spreading lies and misinformation," the TMC chief alleged. Without naming any person, she said that anyone can speak in any language with the assistance of a teleprompter but it does not help one learn the culture of a state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week addressed the Visva-Bharati university's centenary celebration via videoconference, in which he quoted extensively from Tagore's works in Bengali. Bengal is the cultural capital of India and that it is her pride as a Bengali that she can go along with the people of all states, religions and languages, Banerjee said.
The TMC supremo said that she knows Bengali, English, Hindi and several other languages. She said that if she goes to Gujarat and does not visit the Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati, it will be a blunder on her part and the same will be the case if she travels to Maharashtra but decides not to pay a visit to a Ganapati temple.
Maintaining that the Trinamool Congress will be with the protesting farmers, she said, "We want all the three laws to be withdrawn.".