Eyebrows were raised when the news of an idol of goddess Durga, which has been modelled on Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, came into the forefront. The idol in Chakdah, a suburban town in Bengal, shows her dressed in her signature white-and-blue-border, white sari and slippers. The 10-hand fibreglass idol showcases the politician holding symbols indicating towards the various government schemes she introduced in the state during her ongoing tenure. The 10 hands are attached separately to Banerjee’s statue, which portrays her with folded hands. It did not stop there. Another idol in Kolkata has also created quite a sensation. The idol at the Bhawanipore Durgotsav Samity pandal features a woman draped in a blue bordered white saree, and with a face bearing the startling resemblance to the state Chief Minister. The figure is seen offering flowers to the goddess, who stretches out her hand in a mark of blessing, an Indian Express report said.
According to media reports, national award winning artist Subir Pal has sculpted the idol in Chakdah. “The organizers approached me to show the development of Biswa Bangla or Global Bengal as envisioned by the Chief Minister through this art form. So I thought what better than showing Mamata Banerjee herself as Durga with ten of her greatest achievements. I feel very proud to be able to make her my idol,” Pal said.
Local Trinamool councillor of Bhawanipore, an organiser of the Bhawanipore puja said, “It is up to the visitors to interpret things the way they want. We have only portrayed the Durga Puja spirit of women power.” The organisers said the idol will be preserved and not immersed as per tradition.
Why this news is so surprising? In our country, we have this habit of worshipping cricketers, political leaders and cine stars as demi-gods and demi-goddess.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee reportedly called Indira Gandhi ‘Ma Durga’ after the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
In Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati’s government reportedly spent multiple crores on the 88-acre Noida memorial opened in 2011. The memorial, meant to honour Dalit icons, has multiple life-size statues of Mayawati, her mentor Kanshi Ram and BR Ambedkar among others. The Lokayukta or anti-corruption ombudsman in Uttar Pradesh alleged that Rs. 1,400 crore was spent out of public money for the construction of the memorials during Mayawati’s regime. A similar memorial in Lucknow is spread across 98 acres.
Down south in Tamil Nadu, there is so much adulation for Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and she is revered by the people of the state. This was evident after her release from Bengaluru prison in 2014 following the Supreme Court’s decision to grant her bail in a disproportionate assets case.
The tradition continues. Whether it is a good taste or ethically wrong one. It is up to the readers to judge.