Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has stirred fresh controversy by saying that Rabindranath Tagore rejected the Nobel Prize in protest against the “British misrule” in India.
Tagore had in fact rejected the Knighthood in 1919 and not the Nobel Prize for Literature – awarded in 1913 – which remained with him until his death on August 7, 1941.
“Rabindranath Tagore was a world famous poet. He is such a great man that he rejected the Nobel Prize opposing the British rule,” the Chief Minister said after inaugurating the three-day Rajarshi festival at the century-old Bhubaneswari temple on the occasion of the poet’s 157th birth anniversary.
Opposition Congress and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders criticized Deb for the comments. Senior Congress leader Gopal Roy said that the Chief Minister did not have knowledge of any subject.
“For Deb’s incorrect comments on Tagore’s Nobel Prize, the people of Tripura were ashamed. The poet visited the state as many as seven times between 1899 and 1926,” CPI-M central committee member and writer Gautam Das told the media.
He said that Deb has “crossed every limit of foolishness”. The Chief Minister’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Sanjay Mishra clarified Deb’s stance saying that he had made a mistake.
“The Chief Minister’s intention was not bad. This is just a mistake,” Mishra said. Deb’s earlier controversial comments also triggered widespread criticism across the country.
Deb, an Arts graduate from Tripura University, had said that the internet and satellite communication existed during the Mahabharata era. Criticising the “marketing mafia”, he questioned the crowning of Diana Hayden as Miss World in 1997.
The Chief Minister also stated that mechanical engineers should not opt for civil services, only civil engineers should. He has also asked educated youth to set up “paan” shops instead of running after political parties to get government jobs.
He suggested exploring a career in the dairy field and keeping cows to earn Rs 10 lakh in 10 years. He said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee must consult doctors for mental treatment.
According to Deb, the Amazon forest was in Africa and Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang was a journalist while Chanakya taught at the ancient university situated in present-day Bihar.
In his defence, Deb said that he was quoted wrongly by the media. Regarding Deb’s comments, BJP chief Amit Shah told a television channel earlier this week that he is a new Chief Minister, everything would be alright soon.