The Trinamool Congress, fighting a pitched battle to protect its bastion in West Bengal this poll season, has lashed out at the BJP for its leaders' alleged inability to even sing the national anthem correctly despite its claims to "nationalism". Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's party has branded "anti-national" a supposed goof-up while singing "Jana Gana Mana" at the rival outfit's high-decibel Howrah rally on Sunday. The allegation has, however, been denied.
The Howrah rally, addressed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah yesterday, was projected by the BJP as an event that would turn the tide in the district against the Trinamool. It saw a whole set of former TMC leaders being paraded as the new faces in a party that sees itself replacing the incumbent regime post the March-April state Assembly polls. Howrah, after all, accounts for 16 West Bengal legislative seats out of the 294 in all.
The Trinamool, though, has said that those of its former functionaries, including ex-ministers, who recently joined the BJP were second-run leaders whose departure didn't matter to the ruling party. TMC Parliamentarian Abhishek Banerjee, who has been the opposition's target for a while, has even said that the BJP insulted the national anthem at the event - its leaders allegedly got the last line of "Jana Gana Mana" wrong.
Taking to Twitter, Mr Banerjee, also the Chief Minister's nephew, said, "Those preaching patriotism and nationalism cannot even sing the national anthem correctly".
Those preaching about Patriotism & Nationalism can't even sing our National Anthem correctly.— Abhishek Banerjee (@abhishekaitc) January 31, 2021
This is the party which claims to uphold India's honour and pride! SHAMEFUL!
Will @narendramodi@AmitShah@BJP4India apologise for this “Anti-National” Act?#BJPInsultsNationalAnthempic.twitter.com/fgdCEMPisk
What may stand out is that the reported error in singing took place on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his "Mann Ki Baat" monthly radio talk, condemned the Republic Day events at New Delhi's Red Fort, where the Tricolour was allegedly disrespected. Moreover, BJP leaders, including Mr Shah himself, have in recent months been seen and heard profusely paying obeisance to poet Rabindranath Tagore who penned the national anthem.
Mr Banerjee, though, wasn't alone in criticising the BJP. TMC Secretary-General and West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, too, pointed this out on Twitter. "The whole country is astonished at this shameful act," he posted on the micro-blogging site. CPM politburo member Mohammed Salim, according to a PTI report, said it was an irony that those who could not sing the national anthem properly give sermons on nationalism.
BJP leader Shamik Bhattacharya, however, rubbished the allegations. The Trinamool, he said, was "indulging in politics over the national anthem, just like it did over Lord Ram and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose", PTI reported him as saying. He said it wasn't possible that so many senior leaders of the BJP, including ministers, would together sing the national anthem wrong.