A small puja organised by Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha at Kasba in the southern outskirts of Kolkata created controversy after it was found that the idol of the Mahishasura resembled that of Mahatma Gandhi with a shaved head and sporting a spectacle.
On Sunday evening when some people noticed the idol, they complained to the state administration. The activities of the state administration started in the late evening as protests started flowing in from the political parties as well as the civil society demanding that puja organizers stop projecting Mahatma Gandhi in such light.
The police contacted the organisers and asked them to take some initiative so the sentiments of Gandhian followers are not hurt. Initially, the organizers were disinclined to bring any changes. However, following increasing pressures, the organizers finally brought some changes in the external look of the Mahishasura idol. The spectacle was removed and a wig was put on the head of the idol to give it a normal Mahishasura look.
However, the Puja organizers have stuck to their stand claiming they did nothing wrong by placing a Mahishasura idol resembling that of Mahatma Gandhi.
One of the principal puja organizers, Sundargiri Maharaj, who claims himself to be a state president of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, said that they did not make any mistake since time has come to speak the truth publicly. “I think it is the duty of every Hindu to speak the truth now,” he said, without taking a direct reference to the entire development regarding the Mahishasura idol.
Another Puja organizer, Chandrachur Goswami said, “We received threatening calls. The police administration threatened us to close down the Puja unless we made some changes in the look of the Mahishasura idol. Finally, we had to bring some changes to avoid further tension.”
Meanwhile, the Congress and CPI-M leadership in the state have criticized the state administration for acting so late in the matter. The CPI-M politburo member and the party’s state secretary in West Bengal, Md Salim said that Mahatma Gandhi, whose contribution in the Indian freedom movement was unquestionable, was killed by a Hindutva fanatic. “Now, every day there is an attempt to slaughter the Gandhian philosophy. This was a deliberate attempt to hurt the sentiment of the huge number of people involved in a universal festival,” Salim said.
The state Congress president in West Bengal and veteran party MP. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that Mahatma Gandhi has been insulted in the same Kolkata, the city where he conducted fasting agitations during the time of Independence movement to stop communal violence. “It is unfortunate that the state administration acted so late,” he said.
Till the report was filed there was no report of any administrative action being taken against the Puja organizers.