Kolkata’s intellectuals turn down BJP’s invite

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Party chairman Amit Shah is expected to meet with prominent personalities of the city on a two-day visit to West Bengal.

The big names in Kolkata’s art or culture world have refused to meet with BJP president Amit Shah. They include Thespian Soumitra Chatterjee, former Supreme Court Justice Ashok Ganguly, activist and writer Santosh Rana, theater stars Rudraprasad Sengupta, Chandan Sen and Manoj Mitra, singer Amar Paul and painter Samir Aich.

Mr. Shah had planned to meet many of them on Wednesday in an auditorium in southern Calcutta. Most of them acknowledged the invitation, but are not ready to meet Mr. Shah or attend his conference on the writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay.

BJP state officials, however, are confident that “hundreds” of the city’s intellectuals will participate in the event. The BJP state has lined up a series of programs for Mr. Shah, who will be coming here for a two-day tour of West Bengal.

Key program

One of Mr. Shah’s key programs on Wednesday is a conference in memory of the revered Bengali writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, who wrote the national song Vande Mataram. It will be conducted by the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, based in Delhi. Mr. Shah plans to meet with intellectuals and members of civil society in the city.

The actor Soumitra Chatterjee, who was invited to the Shah program by the national secretary of the BJP, Rahul Sinha, rejected the offer to attend the commemorative conference and the meeting of the intellectuals. The actor’s associates said Mr. Chatterjee expressed his “particular distaste for demonetization and the party’s policy of attacking communities.”

Writer, playwright and theater director Manoj Mitra said BJP leader Mukul Roy met with him last week. “I wanted to know more about our work and then he invited me to the program at Bankim Chandra.” It seemed exciting, but I told him I could not attend, “said Mr. Mitra.

Until Tuesday night, BJP officials have refused to reveal the names of prominent people who are likely to attend Mr. Shah’s program or find him during his stay here.

“We expect 650 intellectuals to attend Mr. Shah’s program, but we can not reveal their names now because there is tremendous pressure on them by the ruling party, if we reveal their names they can now be threatened,” said Pankaj Roy, the coordinator. of the intellectual cell of BJP in Bengal.