Statues of Modi, IAF pilot in Kolkata puja stirs row

abhinandan modi

Kolkata, March 23 : A controversy erupted over a puja of Lord Krishna in north Kolkata, which depicted the return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman by installing three life-size statues of the Indian Air Force pilot, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan.

The Puja organised by ‘Bhai Bhai Sangha’ on occasion of Holi in north Kolkata’s Kumartuli area, also had a laminated photograph of the Attari border between India and Pakistan with an imaginary conversation between the two Prime Ministers, inscribed on it.

“I think the concept is incorrect. The Indian Army or the Air Force will always stand by the country, irrespective of any political party being in power. So why should they be dragged into it? I do not know the intention behind such a theme. If in case somebody has done it with a political intention, then that is something we do not stand by,” Bengal Minister for Women and Child Development and local MLA Sashi Panja told IANS.

“Because it is a puja theme, we do not expect there is a political intention behind it. We have always said that the party does not endorse politics in the name of patriotism. We all are proud of our country and our army. But to use it for one political party is something that our party has already spoken against,” she said.

The organisers, however, said they faced criticism from the local activists of Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress for displaying Modi and Vartaman’s statues together and the pandal has been dismantled on Friday, a day after the ‘Dolyatra’, as Holi is known in West Bengal.

“We depicted this as our theme as it was a proud moment for the country. Varthaman has become a national icon after his return from Pakistan. But some locals did not like the concept. The puja was a one-day affair. So we have already dismantled the pandals and removed the statues,” one of the puja organisers told IANS.

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