In poll-bound Bengal, different celebrations marking Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary have emerged as the latest point of clash between the BJP and TMC
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Kolkata on Saturday to observe Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary. The Opposition, especially the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, has branded his visit a political stunt since it comes ahead of the state Assembly election.
The prime minister’s office said that Modi will officially inaugurate the event at Victoria Memorial in Kolkata.
At the event, an exhibition and a projection mapping show on Bose will be inaugurated which will be showcased all around the year. A cultural programme “Amra Nuton Jouboneri Doot”, based on the theme of Netaji, will also be held.
Prior to the inauguration, the prime minister will visit the National Library, Kolkata, where an international conference “Revisiting the legacy of Netaji Subhas in the 21st century” and an artists’ camp are being organised.
“He will interact with the artists and other participants,” the PMO said.
The central government had recently decided to celebrate Netaji’s birthday on 23 January every year as ‘Parakram Diwas’ to honour his “indomitable spirit and selfless service to the nation,” the PMO noted.
The move, however, has been dismissed by the state government as a political gimmick.
Ahead of Modi’s Bengal visit, chief minister Mamata Banerjee held a massive rally or padayatra from Shyam Bazaar to Red Road in the city to mark the occasion.
Addressing a programme at Netaji Bhavan, Mamata described Bose as an icon who had advocated unity among all communities in the country.
— ANI (@ANI) January 23, 2021
She also demanded that Netaji’s birthday on 23 January be declared a national holiday.
She also criticised the Centre for abolishing the Planning Commission, which, according to her, was conceptualised by Bose.
“Why the national Planning Commission, which was conceptualised by Netaji in independent India, was dissolved? Why the demand for a holiday on Netaji’s birthday by our government not yet met?” said Mamata in her brief speech.
The Narendra Modi government disbanded the Planning Commission in 2014 and had formed the Niti Aayog.
In a veiled attack on the Modi government she pointed out that Netaji was not given his due respect by the Centre until the upcoming elections in the state scheduled in April-May.
“We don’t remember Netaji before the elections. He is in our hearts for 365 days. We are in touch with his family,” she added.
The chief minister also criticised Centre’s decision to celebrate the birth anniversary as “Parakram Diwas Programme”. She said, “I don’t understand Parakram. Subhas Chandra Bose was a desh premi, he was a desh nayak,” she said adding that all the people of Bengal know this.
“He worked for all castes and communities. INA symbolised that,” said Mamata.
“We will celebrate the birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as ‘Desh Nayak Diwas’. It is based on a great history. Rabindranath Tagore addressed Netaji as Desha Nayak. We formed a committee for Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary celebration. Amartya Sen, Abhijeet Banerjee and eminent personalities are part of the committee for the year-long celebration,” the chief minister said.
She also announced to introduce Netaji Subhas University and Jai Hind Vahini. “We know about the birthday but do not know about his death. This is very painful,” she added.
While there is controversy over Bose’s death in a plane crash in Taipei on 18 August, 1945, the central government had in an RTI in 2017 confirmed that he had died in the incident.
TMC MP Saugata Roy claimed that the central government has declared Netaji’s birthday as ‘Parakram Diwas’ with the aim to reap political benefits ahead of Assembly polls.
Speaking to ANI, he said, “We do not appreciate politics in Netaji’s name. If the prime minister wanted to do it, he could have done it six months ago. Why is he doing this on the eve of Netaji’s birthday and ahead of Assembly elections in the state?”
Meanwhile, speaking about Modi’s program a Congress leader said, “There is no doubt that Subhash Chandra Bose ji is the pride of the nation, especially for West Bengal but why both TMC and BJP are remembering him when elections are inching closer? Soon Congress-Left alliance will come up with the Development Agenda of West Bengal and give an alternative to the people of the state.”
With inputs from agencies
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