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West Bengal CM wields mother tongue against ‘polarising’ politics | Kolkata News – Times of India

KOLKATA: What Bangladesh thought five decades back, will Bengal think in 2021? The Trinamool, at least, is banking on such a repeat.
Bengal’s party in office for the last decade, now facing a proper fight from the BJP, is increasingly betting on the appeal of the mother tongue to counter what it sees as the BJP’s attempts at polarising the electorate on religious lines.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee spoke at an event commemorating International Mother Language Day in Kolkata on Sunday. The event was apolitical but the signal was unmistakable: consolidate Bengali atmabhiman (pride) and project the BJP as a party increasingly dependent on “outside leadership”.
Banerjee accepted the “Ekusher challenge (the challenge of ’21)” saying, “And if they send me to jail for this, like Bangabandhu, I will give the Joy Bangla call from jail. We have never learnt to lose.”
“Ekushei challenge hobe (2021 is going to be a challenge). Ekushei amra sob challenge accept kori (We accept all challenges in 21),” the Trinamool chief said, adding, “Ektai ekushe khela hobe (There will be just one match played in 2021). And in this match, I will be the goalkeeper. I want to see who wins and who loses.”
Banerjee said her mother tongue, Bangla, had taught her to fight like a tiger. “Don’t try to intimidate us with jail; we have fought against guns and are not afraid of fighting against rats,” she said.
Keeping up her attack on “outsiders”, the CM said: “If I love the Bengali language, why will I pronounce Bangla as Bongaal?”
She said that the perception about Bengal was bad, and that some leaders always said in Delhi that they wanted “to break the spine” of Bengalis. “Just try to do it,” she challenged.
She also said that it was about time that the state was renamed with linguistic considerations. “Why can’t our state be named Bangla? For four years, our proposal to name the state Bangla has been lying with the Centre. If Odisha can be named, Maharashtra can be named, why not Bangla?” Referring to the Centre’s objection to Bangla because it sounds like Bangladesh, the CM said: “Bangladesh is a country; we are just a state. Even if Pakistan has a Punjab province, what will happen to Punjab then?” Saying Bangla had always been deprived and given stepmotherly treatment, she added, “If someone makes it big from Bengal, there is an attempt to pull the person down,” referring to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Syama Prasad Mukherjee. “Why will this happen? This language gives us strength. We can speak aloud. We can speak with pride. It has taught us to fight like a tiger.”
Five decades back on February 21, 1952, several students were martyred and hundreds injured in Dhaka over protests of the imposition of Urdu by West Pakistan. The event had catalysed into a larger fight for linguistic and cultural rights. In 2002, the United Nations formally recognised the day as International Mother Language Day.

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