New Delhi: The West Bengal Police has issued a circular to all district police officials, asking them to play Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s “awareness song” on coronavirus along with the songs of Rabindranath Tagore to mark the poet’s birthday Friday.
The circular, dated 6 May, was issued by ADG (law and order), West Bengal.
According to the circular, the songs should be played in residential areas and housing complexes between 9 am and 11.30 am.
“Collection of selected Tagore songs… along with the awareness song, written by Hon’ble CM, WB, on coronavirus. This should be played at important residential areas and housing complexes of cities and towns…”, the circular stated.
The song, which has been sung by her cabinet colleague Indranil Sen, is being played at traffic signals, government and party programmes across the state. It is also being played on radio and TV channels.
“Bhir theke shobai dure thako/Coronake chhute diyo na (Everyone, keep distance from crowds, don’t allow corona to touch you),” one line of the song goes, while another adds that “Bangla” will never lose, and win this battle against the coronavirus.
The directive, however, drew sharp criticism from the opposition and academics.
‘How will she protect her image when people are dying?’
BJP leader Mukul Roy, who was once Banerjee’s trusted aide, questioned the connection between the CM’s awareness song and celebrating Tagore.
“Bengal is battling coronavirus but Mamata is not concentrating on testing and ration distribution, but playing her songs at this critical time. She is diluting the fight against coronavirus,” Roy told ThePrint.
Another BJP leader Locket Chatterjee said this isn’t the time for public relations exercise.
“This is the time to do more testing, (contact) tracing and establish infrastructure to fight Covid-19. But Mamata is busy building her brand image. How will she protect her image when people are suffering, dying due to her incompetency and political agenda? Why did her officers issue a circular to play (her) songs in residential buildings,” she asked.
She also tweeted Thursday, calling the circular “outright insulting”.
Pabitra Sarkar, a noted academic and an expert on Tagore literature, told ThePrint the order was needless.
“The government always highlights the chief minister’s art and literature, which is fine. In fact, her song on coronavirus crisis and related awareness must have a good intent and it is being played across the city all the time,” he said.
“But, just for one day, she and her administration could have exercised a bit of restraint and must not have dared to mix it with Kabiguru’s (Tagore) songs. We hear her everyday, one day of not hearing her song would not have damaged anything. I am not able to accept that Kabiguru’s songs and her song will be played side by side. This is a bit embarrassing for all of us,” Sarkar added.