Upholding Rabindranath’s Message of Love and Fraternity Against BJP’s Ugly Game of Divisive Politics
by Atanu Chakraborty

C V Ananda Bose, the ever-controversial Governor of West Bengal, sparked a new debate when he suddenly and unilaterally celebrated June 20 this year as the foundation day of West Bengal state. This was done under an advisory from the centre, which also directed Governors of Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar to observe West Bengal day on the same date. Clearly, the Kolkata Rajbhavan event was part of a larger game plan.

To counter BJP's move, the State Government convened an all-party meeting on 29 August, at Nabanna, the state secretariat, for deciding on a new date for Paschim Banga Diwas. All political parties, civil society organisations, eminent intellectuals, cultural personalities, media persons and others were invited. Barring Congress, BJP and parties of the Left Front, other invitees were present. Our party was represented by Politbureau member Kartik Pal and West Bengal State Committee member Atanu Chakraborty.

All participants rejected 20 June as foundation day of West Bengal and vehemently criticised BJP's move as an attempt to sow seeds of communal discord.

They also put forward different proposals for an alternative date. Following a vibrant discussion, it was decided that participants will submit specific proposals in this regard and so they did. In our submission (reproduced in the side bar) we showed how, in the words of poet and novelist Maitreyi Devi, “Tagore transformed the religious tradition of Raksha Bandhan into a secular motif of unity among diversity” and suggested that Bengal should reinvent the fine tradition in today’s context. The state legislature later passed a resolution declaring 'Poila Baishak' (the first day of the Bengali calendar,  which was proposed by many in the meeting,) as Paschim Banga Diwas.

CPI(ML) Statement on Banga Diwas

03 September 2023
The consensus emerging from the all-party meeting held on 29 August was that the 20th of June 1947, when the legislative assembly of Bengal had passed a resolution dividing the province into two on the basis of the nefarious two-nation theory, was a dark day in the annals of Bengal and India. The BJP, principal successor to the communal forces that engineered the partition of Bengal ahead of partition of India, is now hell bent on reopening the old wounds of communal antagonism in this country. To this end they have, since 2021, started observing the 14th day of August as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day. As part of this dastardly design, they have now launched a program of regularly celebrating the stigmatized 20th of June, a day reminiscent of a great human tragedy, as Paschimbanga Diwas. This is a fascist stratagem to foment, and profit from, communal disharmony in the run up to the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
To foil this communal conspiracy hatched by the Modi Shah regime, we propose: let us scornfully reject 20 June, which marks a day of painful division, and celebrate 16 October as Unity and Fraternity Day. On this day in 1905, a unique Fraternity March led by Rabindranath Tagore was held in Calcutta in protest against the division of Bengal announced by Lord Curzon. Rather than following the conventional date and rituals of rakshabandhan, Hindus tied the rakhi (a cotton wrist band) on the hands of Muslims, upper caste people tied it on their lower-caste brethren and pledged to foil the government’s policy of divide and rule. The loud protest coupled with the firm pledge of unity and fraternity, reverberated in other places like Dhaka, Chittagong, Rangpur and Sylhet. The stubborn protest spread far and wide, ultimately forcing the government to withdraw the partition order.
That day, Bengal rose against an administrative division; today we will have to fight against a more precarious divide -- the communal division and disharmony. The legacy of that day we must now develop to a new height. Come on, let all inhabitants of West Bengal -- irrespective of caste and creed, gender and linguistic groups – join hands to observe the 16th of October every year as a day specially dedicated to further strengthening our bond of love and solidarity and thus defeating the nasty machinations of divisive forces.
Fraternity Against BJP’s Ugly Game of Divisive Politics