Tripura CM draws flak for saying Tagore had ‘rejected’ Nobel Prize

Agartala, May 11

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb came in for fresh criticism after he said Rabindranath Tagore had rejected his Nobel Prize in protest against the British government.

The opposition was quick to react to the chief minister’s folly.

Tagore never returned the Nobel Prize for Literature, which was conferred on him for his work ‘Gitanjali’ in 1913.

He had renounced the British Knighthood in 1919 in protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Speaking in Bengali at a programme in Gomati district on the occasion of Tagore’s birthday on Wednesday, the chief minister had said, “Rabindranath Tagore not only rejected the Nobel Prize in protest against the British government, but also got Biswosrestho (world’s best) award for Gitanjali. However, Tagore cannot be confined to the (Gitanjali) award.”

Tripura’s royal scion, Pradyot Kishore Devburman, who is also the TPCC working president, said he was “very unhappy” with the chief minister’s comment.

“Tagore renounced the knighthood in 1919 to protest against the massacre at Jallianwalabagh in Punjab. My grandfather was also very perturbed at the incident. I found it in his diary. It is not good if our chief minister said like this. It does not have any sense,” he said.

Tagore had visited Tripura seven times and was close to four successive kings — Birchandra, Radhakishore, Birendra Kishore and last king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur, said Panna Lal Roy, a writer, who wrote a number of books on Tagore’s relation with Tripura kings.

Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president Birajit Sinha told a press conference today, “Even we are receiving phone calls from abroad and people are laughing at his comments. He has tarnished the image of our state and made us feel ashamed.”

TPCC vice-president Tapas Dey said, “Tripura is a state where 98 per cent people are literate, but I wonder what the people of our country or abroad are thinking about our state now. Our beloved chief minister’s comment is embarrassing for us.”

CPI-M state secretary, Bijan Dhar said, “I can only laugh at his comment.”

The Tripura chief minister has been riding waves of controversy with a slew of remarks such as the existence of the Internet during the Mahabharata war, whether 1994 Miss World Diana Hayden should be considered an Indian beauty and the questionability of mechanical engineers joining the civil services.

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