Updated: January 23, 2021 7:06:56 pm
Sharing the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday refused to speak at an event to celebrate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary after slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ were raised.
“This is a government programme and not a political programme. There has to be dignity. It doesn’t behove anybody to invite people and insult. I won’t speak. Jai Bangla, Jai Hind,” Banerjee said after a section in the crowd raised slogans against her besides the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chants.
#WATCH | I think Govt’s program should have dignity. This is not a political program….It doesn’t suit you to insult someone after inviting them. As a protest, I won’t speak anything: WB CM Mamata Banerjee after ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans were raised when she was invited to speak pic.twitter.com/pBvVrlrrbb
— ANI (@ANI) January 23, 2021
At the same event, PM Modi said India is following the footsteps of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who had dreamt it to be a strong and powerful country one day. “Netaji had dreamt of a strong India; from LAC to LOC, we are following his footsteps,” he said.
PM Modi also said Netaji had once asked people not to lose hope of free India. Similarly, no one can stop India from being Atmanirbhar, he said. “Netaji would have been immensely proud to see India manufacturing own Covid vaccines and also helping other countries,” he added.
He also stated that the country has decided to celebrate Netaji’s birth anniversary, January 23, as ‘Parakram Divas’.
The prime minister also visited Netaji Bhavan and attended an international seminar on Netaji at National Library where he interacted with delegates and artists.
‘We don’t celebrate Netaji’s birthday in election year only’: Mamata
Earlier in the day, Banerjee said her party does not celebrate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birthday only in the years when elections are scheduled, adding that the saffron party never celebrated Netaji’s birth anniversary before. She urged the Centre to declare Netaji’s birthday as a national holiday.
“We do not celebrate Netaji’s birthday only in the years when elections are scheduled. We are celebrating his 125th birth anniversary in a grand fashion,” the Trinamool chief said at an event to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji.
#WATCH West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee blows a conch shell at the beginning of the march from Shyam Bazaar to Red Road in Kolkata, to mark the occasion of 125th birth anniversary of #NetajiSubhashChandraBose pic.twitter.com/LykT1AczKM
— ANI (@ANI) January 23, 2021
Mamata and other TMC leaders led a 7 km grand procession from Shyam Bazaar to Netaji’s statue in Red Road in Kolkata and blew conch shells. Paying tributes to the freedom fighter, Mamata said, “Netaji went to the war of independence of India with people of all religions and communities. Interfaith harmony was his ideal.”
Banerjee also slammed the Centre for its decision to observe January 23 as ‘Parakram Diwas’ to commemorate the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and said the Narendra Modi government did not consult with her before announcing it.
“What is the meaning of ‘Parakram’? They may dislike me politically but could have consulted with me. They could have consulted with Netaji’s great-grandsons Sugata Bose or Sumantra Bose on choosing a word,” Banerjee said.
“Who has given the name ‘Parakram’? But we are celebrating the day as ‘Deshnayak Diwas’ here because it has a history. Rabindranath Tagore had described Netaji as ‘Deshnayak’. That is why we have today used the name to link the two legends of Bengal,” she added.
The West Bengal CM her government will build an Azad Hind monument in Rajarhat area and a state-funded university, which is also being set up, will be dedicated to Netaji
“India is not about one nation, one political party,” she said. “We will build an Azad Hind monument. We will show how it will be done. They’ve spent thousands of crores in building statues and a new parliament complex,” the TMC chief said.
Banerjee also said India should have four capitals on a rotation basis like the pre-partition era and sessions of Parliament should be held in different locations in the country.
“During the British-era, Kolkata was the capital of the country. I think we must have four capitals on a rotation basis. Why does the country have only one capital? And the sessions of Parliament should be held in different places in the country. We will have to change our concept,” she said.
This year’s Republic Day parade in Kolkata will be dedicated to Netaji, she said. The West Bengal government has also set up a committee to conduct year-long celebrations to celebrate Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary, she added.
With West Bengal elections scheduled to take place this year, both the BJP and TMC are arm-wrestling over the legacy of Netaji. While the TMC has declared his birth anniversary as ‘Deshnayak Dibas’, the BJP-led Centre has named it as ‘Parakram Diwas’. The Centre has also constituted an 85-member high-level committee helmed by the PM to plan year-round programmes to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji.
The Trinamool Congress has accused the BJP government of using Netaji as a poll prop ahead of the Assembly elections in Bengal.