When the gala lights of the Kolkata International Film Festival flickered across the stage, they illuminated more than just the glittering world of cinema. The event, attended by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, sparked off a political controversy that has since echoed through the halls of the nation's parliament and social media platforms.
Unfolding the Controversy
The heart of this uproar was Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament Giriraj Singh, who criticized Mamata Banerjee's participation in the festival. A video surfaced on social media, showing Singh suggesting that Banerjee's 'thumka' dance move was inappropriate given the corruption issues plaguing the state. His comments drew strong protests from Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders, who accused him of hypocrisy and gender bias.
Giriraj Singh's Defense
In the face of the backlash, Singh defended his comments, stating that he had used the term 'jashn', not 'thumka', and that criticizing Banerjee's celebratory demeanor amidst state corruption was not wrong. He accused TMC leaders of exaggerating his words. This defense, however, was met with video evidence shared by TMC showing Singh using the term 'thumka' and making corresponding gestures.
TMC countered Singh's defense, labeling his denial as another example of the BJP's strategy to engage in controversial conduct and then brazenly defend it, regardless of overwhelming evidence. The party also accused the BJP leaders of finding it hard to fathom a woman in power challenging their authority. Their comments, TMC argued, showcased an 'archaic mindset, steeped in gender biases'.
Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra emphasized Bengal's celebration of not having to tolerate BJP's misogyny and patriarchy. She accused the BJP of withholding MNREGA dues and lauded Mamata Banerjee as a thrice-elected leader likened to Maa Kali.
Mamata Banerjee's Stand
Mamata Banerjee chose to downplay Singh's remarks. She explained her dance at the festival as a gesture of respect towards Bollywood and stressed her lack of dance skills and her occasional dance with tribals in support. Her response was a firm stand against the gender bias and political mudslinging, highlighting her leadership and commitment to her state.
The incident underscores the ongoing gender bias debates in Indian politics and serves as a stark reminder of the need for respectful discourse and the importance of focusing on the issues at hand rather than personal attacks.