NEW DELHI: Afraid of offending the Islamist street, the Centre was still resisting pressure to formally step in and address the controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen’s wish to return to her home in Kolkata. That the Leftists, who threw her out of West Bengal, will resist Ms Nasreen’s return to the state capital, was clear when chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee rolled back his “Taslima can come back” statement.
The Left’s stand is not surprising to many as it has been clambering over others to prove how quickly it can betray basic principles, to appease Islamists. Its leaders advertised the gap between its rhetoric and action when it decided to pack Ms Nasreen off from Kolkata after fundamentalists vandalised the city. State secretary of CPM Biman Bose issued a diktat that Ms Nasreen should leave Kolkata as it was affecting the “harmony” of the city.
The Leftists, forever willing to pander to the members of the cult of victimisation, have now been asking the Centre to accommodate Ms Nasreen. Officials in the Rajasthan Bhawan, who have been helping Ms Nasreen, said that no official from the Centre or the West Bengal government contacted the author during the day. “The Rajasthan government is awaiting a direction from the Centre,” said the state home minister.
That those vandalised the Kolkata street have gained a supreme ideological status was evident when Union railway minister Lalu Yadav said Ms Nasreen should resist from writing offensive literature. Lalu Yadav, who usually goes into the lynch mode, when members of other communities commit minor indiscretions, said the writer has no right to offend the sensibilities of believers.
This premium on the sensibilities of the “perpetually outraged” explains the Centre’s reluctance to intervene in the matter. As a matter of fact, the Congress president or the prime minister is yet to formally state their opinion on the ouster of Ms Nasreen from West Bengal.
Muslim fundamentalists in Bangladesh had issued death threats to Taslima for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through her writings after which she left the country and went into a self-imposed exile abroad. Taslima fled Bangladesh in 1994 after huge street protests by demonstrators who decried her writings as blasphemous and demanded her “execution”.
She took up residence in Kolkata in 2004 after spending years in Europe and the United States. Nasreen’s Indian visa is valid until February 2008.