Netaji Subhas Bose, The New Guiding Light In Poll-Bound West Bengal
Kolkata: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the iconic leader who took on the British by forming Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army), seems to be the new ‘hero’ for political parties eyeing the seat of power in West Bengal.
With assembly elections due in three-four months, the main contenders are looking to ride piggyback on Netaji-related sentiments to woo the emotional Bengali voters.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has long been demanding that January 23 be declared as a national holiday by the Centre. Bose’s family, too, has suggested that his birthday be celebrated as ‘Desh Prem Divas’.
But all such requests have fallen on deaf ears thus far.
Circa 2021. The BJP, which is leaving no stone unturned to form a government in Bengal for the first time, is planning big year-long celebrations this time. The Centre has set up a high-level committee, headed by the PM himself, to commemorate Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary.
Besides several Central ministers and eminent personalities from different fields, the committee includes West Bengal governor, chief minister and members of Bose’s family including his daughter Anita Bose, nephew Ardhendu Bose, grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose and grandniece Renuka Malekar.
Mamata had already gone one up on the BJP two months ago, when she announced a committee to oversee year-long celebrations of Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary. Her committee includes Nobel laureate economists Amartya Sen and Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee among others.
“The core idea is to once again spread far and wide the ideas of Netaji and everything he stood for…. A national, global icon, who had risen from Bengal,” Mamata had said then.
On Saturday, the Congress also joined the bandwagon, saying that Netaji’s message has to be spread far and wide.
All India Congress Committee’s Bengal in-charge Jitin Prasada said in an interview that the Congress will construct the tallest Netaji statue if the party is voted to power.
With the Prime Minister scheduled to visit Kolkata on January 23, can Bengal expect a declaration of national holiday?
Time will tell.