Organisers at a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata provided a wig and a moustache to the 'Mahisasura' idol, which bore an uncanny resemblance to Mahatma Gandhi and stoked a controversy, prompting police to intervene after a complaint was filed.
Put up as part of the pandal display by the All India Hindu Mahasabha at the city's Ruby by-pass the 'asura' idol was a bespectacled, dhoti-clad bald man with a walking stick, which according to complaint bore resemblance to the Father of the Nation.
West Bengal Congress leader Koustav Bagchi on Sunday made a complaint with the Kolkata Police to lodge a Zero FIR in connection with the matter. Bagchi said that portraying Gandhi as 'asura' is an "act of sedition" and had sought the immediate stop of the Puja.
Candrachud Goswami who is the organiser of the Puja Pandal said that they changed the appearance of the idol after a lot of calls and that they have not done so willingly.
"The idol of Asura did resemble MK Gandhi, we do not deny it. It has been changed. We have not made the changes. We received a lot of calls. We have been made to change it forcefully. We do not accept the changes. Our freedom of expression has been curtailed. People should know that nobody called Gandhi the father of the nation. There is no such resolution passed in this regard," he said.
The organiser of the Puja said he was "forced" to make the changes following the intervention by Kolkata Police which was prompted by a complaint.
Goswami who is also the state working president of the Hindu Mahasabha, said that athough they have made the changes to the 'asura' idol, they were not willing to accept them.
"Kolkata Police supported us and requested to make the change. So forceful changes have been made. We do not accept these changes. We will spread the word about Gandhi's activities among people in the future. He is the person who divided our country," he added.
Meanwhile, Congress' Bagchi said, "I have lodged a complaint against Chandrachur Goswami and the other functionaries of the state unit, because the idol of asura has been depicted as Mahatma Gandhi who is the father of the nation. This act determines sedition and is completely detrimental to national integrity. So a complaint has been lodged at the police station to file a zero FIR and take the necessary steps. It has also been stated in the complaint that the puja needs to be immediately stopped. I have filed the complaint after a discussion with state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury."
The Congress Party has also condemned the incident and demanded the "strictest" action against the organisers of the puja.
"All India Hindu Mahasabha in Kolkata has wrongly depicted Mahatma Gandhi in Durga Puja pandal. This is a crime we strongly condemn this. Strictest action should be taken against the organisers. We are not tweeting that picture. There is no place for this picture, this thinking in any corner of the world," the INC India tweeted.