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What’s In A Description : Politics Over Netaji

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While the TMC wants that the day be celebrated as Desh Nayak Diwas (day of the national hero), the Forward Bloc, which Bose formed in 1939, and a section of his family demand that January 23 be observed as Desh Prem Diwas (day of patriotism).

The central government’s decision to celebrate Subhas Chandra Bose’s birthday on January 23 as Parakram Diwas, or day of valour, triggered a controversy on Tuesday with West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) as well as the party formed by the legendary freedom fighter alleging that they were not consulted in the decision-making process.

While the TMC wants that the day be celebrated as Desh Nayak Diwas (day of the national hero), the Forward Bloc, which Bose formed in 1939, and a section of his family demand that January 23 be observed as Desh Prem Diwas (day of patriotism).

The objections came hours after Union minister Prahlad Singh Patel made public the plans to celebrate Bose’s 125th birth anniversary in 2022. The year-long celebrations will begin this January 23.

In New Delhi, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the first Parakram Diwas event in Kolkata and inaugurate an exhibition on the grounds of the National Library to mark the occasion.

But the TMC accused the Centre’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of performing a “stunt” ahead of the assembly elections in Bengal, where Bose is a cultural icon.

“Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been demanding for years that January 23 be declared as a national holiday and celebrated as Desh Nayak Diwas. That is the appropriate name because Rabindranath Tagore called Bose a desh nayak (national hero). The Modi government takes all decisions unilaterally,” TMC Lok Sabha member and party spokesperson Saugata Roy said.

“It appears to be a stunt keeping in mind the assembly polls, and not as a mark of respect to Netaji (as Bose is popularly known),” he added.

Bengal is expected to go to the polls in the first half of this year with the BJP and the TMC facing off in a fiercely fought contest.

Naren Chatterjee, state general secretary of the Forward Bloc, said the day should be called Desh Prem Diwas. “This was the demand we made when the Left Front was in power in Bengal. The Centre does not bother to care for public sentiments,” Chatterjee said.

In January 2010, then Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), general secretary Prakash Karat wrote a letter to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, highlighting the demand.

Chandra Kumar Bose, a BJP leader and Bose’s grandnephew, agreed. “#Netaji’s birthday on 23January is celebrated as #DeshPremDivas across the country by people from all religions, caste & creed as he was the #LiberatorofIndia & their own leader…,” he tweeted.

BJP state vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar defended the Union government’s move. “The Centre named the day Parakram Diwas because Netaji is a symbol of valour and patriotism for the entire nation,” he told the media.

Last year, the Centre appointed a panel headed by home minister Amit Shah to celebrate Bose’s 125th birth anniversary. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, her predecessor and CPI(M) leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and BJP’s Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh, among others, are in the panel.

“Nobody from the Forward Bloc has been included in the committee. We will not be a part of it even if we are invited now,” party leader Chatterjee said.

At his press conference in the Capital, Patel said different ministries will roll out programmes throughout the year. “Padyatra and cycle rallies will be organised,” he said. “Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja” — the regimental quick march of the Indian National Army (INA) — will be included in the Beating Retreat ceremony, he said. Besides, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan will participate in a programme in Odisha’s Cuttack, where Bose was born in 1897.

“Instead of just celebrating Bose’s birthday, the Centre should declare its stand on the report of the Justice Manoj Mukherjee Commission that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had set up to probe Bose’s mysterious disappearance. The commission concluded that he did not die in the plane crash in 1945, but the UPA government did not accept it. The Centre should also declare what happened to the manuscript of the research on INA that historian Pratul Chandra Gupta was asked to carry out by the Centre in 1956. The manuscript simply disappeared,” political commentator and columnist Suvashis Maitra told HT, referring to the mystery surrounding Bose’s death. Bose led the INA to fight the British rule.

Courtesy – Hindustan Times

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