MP CM accused of stealing someone’s ‘poem’, fails to respond to ‘plagiarism’ charge

A poem written by her in the memory of her father, alleges a woman, was lifted by the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister’s social media team and passed off as a poem written by the CM’s wife

MP CM accused of stealing someone’s ‘poem’, fails to respond to ‘plagiarism’ charge

Sanjukta Basu

“They steal other party’s MLAs. They change the name of previous government’s schemes, and pass them off as BJP schemes. They change the name of a city or railway station and try to alter and obliterate thousands of years of legacy of a place, its people, culture and history. Now they are stealing and renaming someone’s grief,” is the reaction to reports that MP chief minister passed on someone else’s poem as one penned by his wife.

“I am not a poet,” says Event Manager Bhumika Birthare, “though poetry comes out when the heart goes through deepest emotions, and there is no other ways to express.”

Bhumika lost her father on 16th November. The last rites took place on the morning of 18th morning when her brother arrived from USA. Usually, as per Hindu rituals parents’ last rites are performed by a son, but Bhumika broke that tradition. As she carried her father’s bier to the cemetery ground, applied ghee on his forehead, along with camphor to the wood and performed the Mukhagni all she could hear from the crowd standing behind her was whispers, “Oh no, don’t. Women are not supposed to do these things.” She travelled back on her memory lane and tried to recall if her father ever told her about any such thing which a woman could not do. The answer was none.

“People say women cannot handle bikes. Daddy would give me the keys to his bike and ask me to park it. If mother would say that I should learn some kitchen work, daddy would tell her, my daughter would not cook, she would rather take me for a car ride,” Bhumika said recalling her father’s non-gender stereotyped upbringing. “I was always like a son to him, managing heavy duty work of the household, handling the logistics during my sister’s wedding, at no point did he say ‘women don’t do these things,” she added.

The grief of losing a parent is always unsurmountable, perhaps more so for a woman like Bhumika, who belongs to a small town, whose father raised her as an equal and did not want her to fit into gender roles. That deepest layers of her grief came out through poetry on a quiet afternoon when she finally sat down with herself and her father’s memory having completed all the formalities of cremation, Tervi, and Sraadh.

Bhumika wrote a poem titled “Daddy” and posted it on her family WhatsApp group, which was later posted on her Facebook page. She told National Herald that every word of that poem was a part of her life narrative, her personal grief and almost a literal expression of the emotions and grief she felt through the 15 days of having lost her father. If she kissed him for the last time and whispered in his ears, “You have to be my guardian angel,” that went into the poem.

Shockingly, this poem, an expression of her personal grief was seemingly plagiarized by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan who shared it on his Twitter account claiming it to be written by his wife, Sadhna Singh four days after his father-in-law - Ghanshyam Das Masani - died.

The poem tweeted by Chauhan on 22nd November is a word to word copy of the one posted by Bhumika on her WhatsApp on 20th and Facebook on 21st November except for the title.

Bhumika’s “Daddy” was co-opted and name changed to “Bauji”. Instead of text, the poem was shared as a JPEG file with graphic art which indicates that somebody copied the pain text and produced a JPEG media out of it. That being a textbook definition of plagiarism with intent to steal. In subsequent Tweets the CM also unambiguously claimed it is written by his wife in memory of her father.

On being alerted by some friends about the plagiarism, Bhumika took to Twitter to inform the Chief Minister that she is the author of the poem and requested for an acknowledgement. She did not express shock or anger, nor did she seek any apology, all she requested was an acknowledgement.

“I am a small person, who am I to seek apology from him,” she told us. “But this experience made me question how do we choose our leaders? I used to be a big fan of ‘Mamaji’. If anybody in political circle said anything to him, I would fight with them. But now my love and respect for him is shaken. This is not what a hero does. He is the state’s mukhiya, he is supposed to take care of us,” she told National Herald.

Perhaps the plagiarism is done by Shivraj Chauhan’s social media team, and he is personally not aware? “What kind of leader are you then, if you do not even have a command over your social media team, you don’t know what they are posting?” was Bhumika’s sharp reply.

Bhumika is undecided whether to pursue legal route. “I do not want publicity. I am only hurt. The poem was my tribute to my dad. He was my hero, now it is stolen. I lost my father, now his memories are also stolen from me,” she said even as her voice choked.

The CM’s tweets are still on his verified profile, and Bhumika Birthare has not received any response.

The CM’s office did not respond to calls and messages from this reporter.

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