West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday paid tribute to Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar on his bicentenary birth anniversary, and seized the occasion to hit out at “certain outsiders”, who, according to her, had desecrated a bust of the polymath last year.
She also said that the social reformer will be remembered for his crusade against child marriage and polygamy, and his teachings will continue to inspire all.
“Remembering great social reformer & educationist Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar on his 200th birth anniversary. He was a pioneer for Bangla language & drafted primer Barnaparichay. Also known as ‘Dayar Sagar’, he fought for widow remarriage, banning child marriage & polygamy,” Ms. Banerjee tweeted.
A bust of Vidyasagar was vandalised at a college here in May 2019, when clashes broke out during a road show led by the then BJP president Amit Shah, ahead of the last phase of Lok Sabha elections.
Both the TMC and the saffron party had blamed each other for the incident.
“Vidyasagar truly represents the pride of Bengal & serves as an inspiration to us till date. His bust was unfortunately desecrated in 2019 by certain outsiders, which only shows their disregard for Bengal’s legacy. However, his teachings are deeply inculcated in our values,” the CM wrote on Twitter
Ms. Banerjee had, on several occasions, referred to the BJP as a “party of outsiders“.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following the desecration of the bust in May 2019 and ensuing protests, had promised to install a grand statue of Vidyasagar at the same spot in the college.
The chief minister, however, went ahead and unveiled a new bust of the noted reformer within a month of the incident.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also remembered the 19th century polymath on Saturday, describing him as “one of the greatest reformers of all times.”
“Today marks the 200th birth anniversary of late Sanskrit scholar, writer, educationist, social reformer and philanthropist Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. He was one of the greatest reformers of all times. His contributions to the upliftment & betterment of the society is immense,” he added.
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.