During his 35-minute election speech at Nigha in Asansol on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi uttered the names of Bengal’s iconic personalities in the fields of literature, arts, industry, but did not mention the name of Nazrul Islam, standing about a kilometre away from the rebel poet’s birthplace in Churulia.

This raised an outcry among his family members and all Opposition parties, thereby putting the BJP in the back foot in Jamuria Assembly seat and creating a huge stir.

Modi took the names of Prince Dwarakanath Tagore, the founder of coal mining in India at Raniganj coalfields, Sir Romen Mookerjee and Sir Biren Mookerjee, owners of IISCO in Burnpur which used to control the barometer of London Stock Exchange at one time.

Even the posters of Rabindranath Tagore was seen behind his podium at Ningha, but that of Kazi Nazrul Islam was missing.

“Kazi Nazrul Islam was truly a secular poet and he is also the national poet of Bangladesh. But our Prime Minister sadly ignored him in his native place. He has inspired several Indians through his poems,” says CPM’s Jamuria Assembly candidate and former president of JNU Students Union Aishee Ghosh.

Syed Rezaul Karim, nephew of Nazrul, said that they are shattered by the behaviour of Narendra Modi yesterday. “The name of the rebel poet did not find a single mention in his entire speech at his birthplace at Churulia. During the birth centenary year of Kazi Nazrul Islam in 1999, India’s then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Bangladesh Prime Minister Seikh Haseena Wajed visited Churulia along with the then railway minister Mamata Banerjee,”said Karim, who is also the general secretary of Nazrul Academy in Churulia.

“There are several folklores about Kazi Nazrul Islam and his classmate, fellow author and film director Shailajananda Mukhopadhyay in Churulia and Raniganj. We are proud of these Bengali legends of Asansol, but it seems that the BJP has no knowledge about the art and culture of Bengal,” alleges Akhshay Mukherjee district secretary of Bangla Pokhshya and resident of Jamuria.

Talking to The Statesman, V.Sivadasan, general secretary of TMC said that the chief minister has huge respect for the rebel poet and has already set up the Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol and Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport in Andal which is very soon to be upgraded to an international airport. He said Mamata is also in the process of setting up a Nazrul Research Academy in Asansol.

“ We feel proud that the rebel poet took part in World War I and is also the national poet of our neighbouring country. India-Bangladesh bilateral relationship is so stronger due to the bonding of Nazrul Islam,” he added.

“We have to enquire why the picture of Nazrul was missing at the flex boards and banners at the meeting venue. Modi did not take his name because he either forgot or was unable to take all names in his brief speech,” says Tapas Roy, Jamuria BJP candidate.

It seems that at this time Nazrul has become a poll issue due to all the wrong reasons at his birthplace. Nazrul has become the sentiment of Jamuria residents.