Bengaluru, Feb 26: Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani's statement in Parliament on Wednesday (February 26) slamming a group of students slamming Goddess Durga in support of Mahishasur. A visibly upset Irani called it "depravity" and asked from where such things came.
But this statement by the minister might not have down well with the indigenous communities of West Bengal, the state where Durga Puja is the main festival, as they consider Mahishashura their "greatest hero" and not Goddess Durga who had defeated her.
According to a report in the Hindu, Nityananda Hembram, chief of the Santhal Samaj of Bengal, said Irani's statement might affect the BJP's chances in the upcoming Assembly elections. It also said that anrthropologist Pashupati Prasad cautioned the minister to cross check the roles the Asuras had played in the country's history.
The Santhals constitute more than half of Bengal's tribal population.
Bengaluru, Feb 26: The eighty-year-old Hembram, an IITian from Kharagpur who retired as the chief arhitect of the defence ministry, said the tribals of Bengal and parts of Odisha and Jharkhand rever Mahishashura, the Hindi report said.
Hembram said Mahishashura was not a mythical but a historical character who fought the Aryans, the outsiders, before the birth of Christ, said the report. He added that when the Aryans couldn't defeat him after repeated attempts, they sent a woman to deceive him and finally prevailed over him, the repot said.
BJP's tribal prospects in Bengal polls:
The BJP did well in some tribal pockets of Bengal in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when it garnered 17 per cent vote share. In West Midnapore dictrict in southern Bengal which has a substantial tribal population, the BJP did well. In Bankur too, another district with a decent tribal population, the BJP did well. In northern Bengal, the BJP garnered a substantial vote-share in Jalpaiguri district, a state with nearly 15 per cent tribal population.
It will be interesting to see how these segments react to Irani's statement in the upcoming Assembly elections.