New Delhi, Jan 21 (IANS) With Assembly elections in West Bengal around the corner, the Congress too has now jumped into the political fray after BJP and TMC to claim Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s legacy, by promising to build his “tallest statue” in the eastern state.
Congress West Bengal affairs incharge Jitin Prasada said: “The BJP is now thinking of Netaji when the Assembly elections are nearing. Why did it not build his statue in the last six years, like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s statue in Gujarat? The Congress will build the tallest statue of Netaji if voted to power in the state.”
The Congress move on the renowned freedom fighter comes after the tug of war between ruling Trinamool and the opposition BJP in Bengal to “own” Indian National Army or Azad Hind Fauj founder Netaji, who was in the Congress before he formed the INA to fight the British.
Earlier, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee announced that Netaji’s birth anniversary on January 23 will be celebrated as ‘Desh Nayak Diwas’, hours after the Centre declared that the day will be observed as ‘Prakram Diwas’.
The Chief Minister had earlier written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demand that a national holiday be declared on January 23 to honour Netaji. Elections to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly are slated to be held in April-May 2021.
Bose was elected the Congress President in 1938, but soon after his re-election in 1939, he was ousted from the leadership positions following alleged differences with other Congress leaders.
After his exit from the Congress, he went to Germany in November 1941 and set up a ‘Free India Centre’ in Berlin, and soon after a ‘Free India Radio’ for daily broadcasts.
The Indian National Congress in pre-independent India was the main instrument of Indian nationalism and praised Bose’s patriotism but distanced itself from his tactics.
But now, the Congress seems wary of the BJP overdrive on Netaji, forcing it to lay claim to his legacy and relate it to the Bengali pride.
The Congress leader claimed that the BJP was trying to appropriate Netaji’s legacy for “political gains” though it did not follow his policies. “The Azad Hind Fauj comprised people from different Indian communities and he treated them as equal. On the other hand, the BJP plays divisive politics,” he remarked.
It is pertinent to remember that the Congress had launched its protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act on the birth anniversary of Netaji last year.
The Trinamool Congress and the All India Forward Bloc, which Netaji founded, had earlier demanded that the day be observed as ‘Deshprem Diwas’. The Forward Bloc had said in a statement: “The BJP leadership still does not realise the contribution of Netaji. That is why they cannot understand the difference between ‘Prakram Diwas’ and ‘Deshprem Diwas’.”