Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged in the Lok Sabha on February 8 that Home Minister Amit Shah sat on Rabindranath Tagore’s chair at Rabindra Bhavan in Shantiniketan during his West Bengal visit ahead of the upcoming state elections. He also said that BJP President JP Nadda said Tagore was born in Shantiniketan.

“We want to say that BJP politician Amit Shah ji, BJP politician Nadda Sahab went to Bengal ahead of elections. They were visiting Rabindranath Tagore’s Shantiniketan and saying he was born there. This is absurd. You should read first where he was born. Suddenly they are saying Tagore was born in Shantiniketan. People are laughing. Even we feel bad…Our Amit Shah goes and sits on Rabindranath Tagore’s chair. Don’t know what people tell you and you go sit. This is an insult…” This part of his speech can be watched onward 21:20 in the video below.

Fact-check

This fact-check has been broken into two sections that separately address the claims made by Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury in the Parliament.

1. Did Amit Shah sit on Rabindranath Tagore’s chair at Rabindra Bhavan in Shantiniketan?

2. Did Amit Shah or JP Nadda say Tagore was born in Shantiniketan?

Both these allegations are false.

1. Amit Shah did not sit on Tagore’s chair

Home Minister Amit Shah was on a two-day visit to West Bengal in December last year. Shah went to Visva Bharati University at Shantiniketan where he paid tribute to Bengali poet and revolutionary Rabindranath Tagore at Rabindra Bhavan on the university campus.

Shah had also tweeted pictures of his visit where he is seen showering flowers on Tagore’s chair. The chair is covered with a white cloth. The same picture was also uploaded on the Home Minister’s website (screenshot below).

The claim that Shah sat on Tagore’s chair was also viral on social media in December 2020.

गुरूदेव रवीन्द्रनाथ टैगोर के बाद इस पवित्र स्थान पर आजतक कोई नहीं बैठा। दुनिया के तमाम विशिष्ट अतिथि यहां आते रहते हैं…

Posted by Subhash Lall on Thursday, 24 December 2020

However, the image used to promote the claim shows Shah signing the visitor’s book while seated on a divan (a piece of couch-like sitting furniture). This image was also tweeted by Shah.

In 2018, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was also seated on the same divanto sign the visitor’s book.

India Today journalist Poulomi Saha tweeted a letter written by Visva Bharati VC to Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. “You have unfortunately been misinformed, as this is patently untrue,” the letter says adding, “In the past, during their official visits to Uttarayan, a number of dignitaries, including the former Chancellors, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Madam Pratibha Patil, Sri Pranab Mukherjee, and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Madam Sheikh Hasina, among others, have sat in that makeshift seat, which is actually just the edge of a window on which cushions are placed…Thus, not only is it not a chair, but it has never been Gurudev’s seat at all.”

Furthermore, The Telegraph had uploaded a picture of another sofa-chair that belonged to Tagore kept at the museum which does not resemble the divan where Shah was seated.

2. Neither Amit Shah nor JP Nadda said Tagore was born in Shantiniketan

Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury’s claim is based on BJP President JP Nadda’s speech given in Kolkata last year. Ahead of the state polls in 2021, Nadda was on a two-day state visit on December 9-10, 2020. He inaugurated the BJP’s West Bengal State Election Office at Hastings in Kolkata.

At the 44 second mark in the video below, he can be heard saying, “West Bengal is known for the exchange of ideas. Visva Bharati is here, Rabindranath Tagore was born here…” Thus, the BJP leader did not say Tagore was born in Shantiniketan.

Boomlive had debunked this claim last year when BJP Bengal had misquoted Nadda. TMC had quote-tweeted the erroneous tweet and clarified that Tagore’s birthplace is Jorasanko, Kolkata.

Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury’s claims about Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP President JP Nadda are false.

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About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.