Intellectuals protesting against CAA are Mamata's 'dogs': BJP's Soumitra Khan
Taking the political discourse in the country to another low, a parliamentarian of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has called intellectuals, who are protesting against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), "dogs" of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Soumitra Khan, who represents Bishnupur in Lok Sabha, made the remarks on Sunday at a rally in Barasat of North 24 Parganas district.
CAA, which grants preferential treatment to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, when seeking Indian citizenship, has invited protests. For the first time ever, a law makes religion a criterion for getting citizenship, sparking concerns that it could be used to target Muslims. Across India, women, students, and intellectuals have been exerting pressure on BJP-led Centre to scrap it, but the party is adamant.
Cornered, BJP leaders are trying to change the narrative in their favor, but are only sparking controversies with their words. Khan is the latest one to join the list of leaders who made condemnable remarks. The leader, who was previously associated with Trinamool but jumped ships before general elections, said, "The persons (eminent personalities) who are doing so (protest) are dogs of Mamata Banerjee."
"People who consider themselves as intellectuals don't speak up during Park Street and Kamduni incidents. They have either not read the law or staging a drama despite knowing it. They cannot be described as anything other than her dogs," he said.
Khan's jibe comes days after actors, filmmakers, and singers of Bengali film industry featured in a video saying they won't show papers. Papers, here, refer to documents needed to prove citizenship. The clip titled "Kagoj Amra Dekhabona" (We won't show our papers) featured personalities like Konkona Sen, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Swastika Mukherjee, Tillotama Shome, Nandana Sen, Dhritiman Chatterjee, and Rupam Islam.
Khan isn't the only Bengal BJP leader to have shown his disdain towards intellectuals. Before him, Dilip Ghosh, the president of Bengal BJP, said, "Some creatures called intellectuals have come out on the streets of Kolkata. These parasitic intellectuals, who live and enjoy out of other's pockets, where were they when our predecessors were tortured in Bangladesh."
To note, Ghosh started a major controversy by saying people protesting against CAA, were "shot like dogs" in BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and Karnataka. His comments, referring to police excesses in these states, were berated but Ghosh stayed defiant. He said, "Whatever I have said is in favor of the country," and added Trinamool and Congress have also fired at protesters.
Obviously, Khan's statements evoked a sharp reaction from Trinamool, with secretary-general Partha Chatterjee claiming there is a competition in BJP on who can speak the filthiest language. "People are seeing this and they will not vote for them next time if they keep on doing this. The use of foul language has increased after Dilip Ghosh was re-elected as state BJP president," he said.