Shantanu Datta | July 1, 2014
Not many people outside West Bengal had heard of Tapas Pal till yesterday. Not many people will know Tapas, possibly after tomorrow. But for two days, Pal, a yesteryear Bengali matinee hero with one film (Abodh) with Madhuri Dixit, has suddenly become the talk of the town. For his filthy and yet asinine remarks.
On Tuesday, he was trending on Twitter nationally – certainly a first for the actor-turned-MP. As Purba Ray @Purba_Ray posted, “The most Googled word today is 'Tapas Pal who'?”
Most people remember Pal the actor for some trivial romantic flicks he did – primarily with fellow Trinamool Congress (TMC) Lok Sabha MP Shatabdi Roy. Most people who want to remember Pal the legislator would now do for his observation that he would let loose his goons to kill and rape CPM activists who attack TMC members.
Here’s what the 55-year-old Krishnanagar MP purportedly said at a meeting in a village in Nadia district: Ekta jodi kono birodhi aajke Trinamuler kono meye, kono baap, kono bachchar gaye haat dey, tader gushti ke ami jaa taa kore chole jabo. Amaar chheleder dhukiye debo rape kore chole jabe, rape kore chole jabe…. (If anyone from the Opposition dares touch a daughter of Trinamul, a father from Trinamul, a child from Trinamul, I will do whatever I can to their entire clan. I will set my boys on them, they will rape them, they will rape them.) [Read the Telegraph story here for Pal’s full dialogue-baazi).
He said this, as the report notes, on June 14 – long after the election ‘heat’ had abated, and the new government formed in New Delhi. The video, broadcast on Bangla news channels on Monday, has surfaced just now.
Later on Monday, Pal was reported to have offered the excuse that he had lost his “cool” while making that remark. His wife Nandini Pal also apologized “on behalf of him” and said Pal should not have “lost his cool”. She told the media, "I apologise for his comment. Of course there is no question of supporting it. But yes I know there is another part of the story which provoked him to do that. The entire incident had happened long back…, what led to such a thing there is another part of the story.”
That, Mr and Ms Pal, is zero excuse. You do not utter a 300-word speech at a momentary loss of “cool” – 300 words of the most abominable, reproachable, violent and criminal kind. And even a hint of justification for that is, in fact, the second crime.
There also can be absolutely no ground for that kind of hate speech, notwithstanding the amount or degree of “provocation” – no matter what the “other part of the story” is, Ms Pal.
Ms Pal, though, was not alone. The MP’s party, while seeking a written explanation “within 48 hours”, has also used words to sort of justify Pal’s “outburst”. Stressing that the party will “never approve use of such words” and that “even if the words used by him were out of excitement, it is not justified”, senior TMC leader and West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee said, "But it has to be seen under what circumstances he has used such words. The opposition must have created such a situation after which there has been such an outburst."
Excuse me, Mr Chatterjee? What sort of “situation” and “circumstances” would make a man threaten murder and rape, and pointedly and repeatedly at that? For the record, Pal here is not the victim. He is the accused. So treat him not with kid gloves but with the strongest kind of censure till he is proven otherwise.
Pal, for the record, did not just threaten violence by TMC men. He even said he would take out his own pistol and shoot anyone who dared touch a TMC man or woman. He warned that he is not a Kolkata man but one from Chandannagar [“Chandannagar-er maal”, the latter being a slang in Bangla for anything from a person to an offensive reference to a woman to, literally, a thing].
Also, Mr Pal, your party supremo Mamata Banerjee believes celebrity MPs are only a face of the party. So, for good or bad (for both you and us), you can rest your mouth for now.
Should ration cards not linked to Aadhaar be rendered ineligible?