Amit Shah’s Fresh Jab At Mamata Banerjee Has A Satyajit Ray Twist

Amit Shah targeted Mamata Banerjee during a rally in Bengal’s Hooghly district


Legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray would have called his iconic film, ‘Hirak Rajar Deshe’, “Hirak Rani” if it were made during Mamata Banerjee’s tenure as Bengal Chief Minister, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said today.

The 1980 classic, starring stalwarts Utpal Dutt and Soumitra Chatterjee, is a dystopian fantasy film that revolves around a tyrannical, megalomaniac king crushes dissent and torments his subjects.

“Satyajit Ray was a great artist. He made a movie – Hirak Rajar Deshe. When Mamata Banerjee’s regime began, Satyajit Ray was not alive. Otherwise, he would have named the movie, ‘Hirak Rani’. Mamata Banerjee is ‘Hirak Rani’,” Mr Shah said at a poll rally in West Bengal’s Hooghly today.

“Violence, corruption, polarisation… Communists and Trinamool worked to finish nationalism from Bengal which gave us Vande Mataram, Jana Gana Mana and which played a key role in the freedom movement. They have snatched the rights of the poor, the backward and tribals and given them to infiltrators,” Mr Shah added.

The Union Home Minister also said at the rally that Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir is a part of India and “we will take it”. “After the abrogation of Article 370 by the government in 2019, peace has returned to Kashmir. But now we witness protests in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Earlier slogans of Azadi were heard here, now the same slogans are heard in PoK. Earlier stones were pelted here, now stones are pelted in PoK,” he said.

Targeting the Congress over an old video of its senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, Mr Shah said, “Congress leaders like Mani Shankar Aiyar say it should not be done as they have an atom bomb. But let me say this, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is part of India and we will take it.”

The movie parallel, apparently made to paint Ms Banerjee as a tyrant, was also aimed at countering the Trinamool’s “outsider” charge. The ruling party in Bengal has been targeting the BJP as a party of “outsiders” who don’t understand Bengal’s culture and heritage. Referencing an iconic Satyajit Ray movie that most Bengalis would have grown up with is significant against this backdrop.

Mr Shah’s parallel between Hirak Raja and the Trinamool chief also comes weeks after a row over Kolkata Police’s response to a meme featuring Ms Banerjee. Several social media users got notices from Kolkata Police over the meme that went viral. This had prompted several BJP leaders to question the freedom of expression in Bengal.

Not one to let such opportunities pass, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promptly shared a similar meme that featured him, with the comment, “I also enjoyed seeing myself dance. Such creativity in peak poll season is truly a delight!”

The Hooghly district, where Mr Shah campaigned, has three Lok Sabha seats – Arambagh, Hooghly and Serampore. The Hooghly seat is set for a contest between two celebrities. The Trinamool has fielded actor and popular TV host Rachna Banerjee, who is up against BJP’s sitting MP and actor-turned-politician Locket Chatterjee. The CPM, backed by Congress, has fielded Monodip Ghosh. In Arambagh, won by Trinamool in 2019, the ruling party’s Mitali Bag is contesting against BJP’s Arup Kanti Digar and CPM’s Biplab Kumar Moitra. In Serampore, Trinamool’s sitting MP Kalyan Banerjee is up against the BJP’s Kabir Shankar Bose and CPM’s Dipshita Dhar.

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