Union minister Subhas Sarkar’s comments on Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore have created a controversy. The minister during a visit to Visva Bharati University that was founded by Tagore commented on the latter’s complexion and suggested that due to the complexion, his mother treated him differently.
What Subhas Sarkar said
The Union minister during his visit to the varsity said that as Rabindranath Tagore was “dark”, his mother discriminated against him. Compared to the skin colour of the rest of the family, the minister said Tagore was a “darker, more reddish shade of fair.
He claimed, “Tagore’s mother and some other relatives would not hold him in their arms because he was ‘dark-skinned’. There are two types of fair-skinned people. One that are very fair with a yellowish hue and those who are fair but with a reddish tinge. Kabiguru belonged to the second category.”
While Sarkar failed to explain what was the basis of his comments on Tagore’s skin tone, Sarkar later during the day told journalists in Bankura that he had documents to prove whatever he had said on the Bard’s skin colour.
Subhas Sarkar faces criticism
Several experts on Tagore drilled holes into his assessment of Tagore’s skin tone, but the bigger question was what prompted him to bring the skin tone of the legend into public discourse. “When a BJP central minister talks about skin tone, it exposes the deep-rooted racism in his mind. The prime minister and other senior leaders of the party should condemn his statement,” said CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty.
“They divide the country in terms of religion and caste.… Now, they have begun bringing skin tone in the discourse,” he added, expressing his dismay at how the BJP was trying to divide the society.
TMC leader and Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee said, “Subhas Sarkar is not aware of history. This is a racist comment and an insult to the icons of Bengal.”
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