The moment Kolkata changed

The CPM used me to secure Muslim votes; Muslim fanatics used me to demonstrate the strength of fundamentalist faith even in a supposedly secular country. Mamata Banerjee, the current CM of West Bengal, is inexplicably walking the same path as did the CPM.

She may oppose everything the CPM did, but she agreed on one idea that I must not be allowed into West Bengal. Because both political parties do the exact same thing, that is, appease the fanatics in order to retain their votes. Salman Rushdie was not allowed to reach West Bengal. The current government prevented his entry into Kolkata. The Left parties, currently in the opposition, do not object to this decision. How can they? Because what Banerjee is doing with me and Rushdie is not at all different from what they did with me just a little while ago.

I am thankful for the fact that India, as a country, has shown a degree of commendable religious tolerance in my case; I have at least been allowed to live here. Had it been Bangladesh or Pakistan, I would have most likely been dead by now. At the same time, I do believe that had my book not been banned in 2003, I would not have been thrown out of Kolkata in 2007; had I not been thrown out of Kolkata, Rushdie could have gone on to visit Kolkata, this wonderful city of intellectuals with a rich literary history. The sad fact of life is that once a government bows to the fanatics, the fanatics are immeasurably encouraged and emboldened and the trend is set.

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