West Bengal’s TMC Locks Horns With Centre Over Netaji’s Birthday

Mamata Banerjee, TMC and the All India Forward Bloc want to celebrate the day as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’.

3 min read

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's birthday celebrations has led to a political tussle between TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee and the Centre, with the Bengal CM stating on Tuesday, 19 January, that the freedom fighter's birth anniversary would be commemorated as 'Desh Nayak Diwas' (the day of the national hero), or ‘Desh Prem Diwas’, hours after the Centre declaration that the day would be observed as "Parakram Diwas" (the day of valour). This political slugfest comes ahead of the West Bengal elections.

Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy has expressed displeasure at the move, saying, “We are not satisfied with GOI's decision to celebrate Netaji's birthday as 'Parakram Diwas'. It should be 'Desh Prem Diwas'. We believe Netaji deserves much better. We will observe this day on our own with Mamata Banerjee leading a procession in the state,” quoted ANI.

Roy added that the move by the Centre “appears to be a stunt keeping in mind the upcoming Assembly poll in the State, and not as a mark of respect to Netaji”. He also asked the Centre to announce Netaji’s birth anniversary as a national holiday.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (23 January 1897 – 18 August 1945) is a renowned freedom fighter of India, who had established the Azad Hind Fauj, as well as the Forward Bloc party.

“The BJP leadership still does not realise the contribution of Netaji. That is why they cannot understand the difference between Parakram Diwas and Desh Prem Diwas”, said Naren Chaterjee, Bengal Forward Bloc party’s general secretary. He added that the party opposes the Centre’s decision, quoted The Hindu.

Netaji’s Family Reacts to the News

Chandra Kumar Bose, Netaji’s grandnephew, expressed mixed feelings and said, “Netaji was India’s liberator. We welcome the announcement but people have been celebrating January 23 as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’. It would have been more appropriate, had the govt announced it as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’. But we’re happy about the announcement,” reported ANI.

Harvard Historian Sugata Bose, and Netaji’s grand nephew, told The Hindu on Tuesday that “Netaji believed in unity and equality, and both Hindus and Muslims were part of the Azad Hind Army. Netaji had a vision for a secular India. That should also be remembered.”

Centre’s Announcement and Modi’s Visit to Kolkata

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra formed a high-level committee to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji, who gave India its ‘Jai Hind’ slogan. PM Modi will reach Kolkata on Saturday to join festivities as part of a grand event at the Victoria Memorial Hall.

“In order to honour and remember Netaji’s indomitable spirit and selfless service to the nation, the government has decided to celebrate his birthday on the 23rd day of January every year as Parakram Diwas to inspire people of this country, especially the youth, to act with fortitude in the face of adversity as Netaji did, and to infuse in them a spirit of patriotic favour.”
Union Ministry of Culture

The Ministry of Railways also announced on Tuesday that to commemorate Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary, they will rename Howrah Kalka Mail as Netaji Express.

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday welcomed the Centre’s move in a tweet saying, "A proud moment - a thoughtful and eminently deserving gesture (by) @narendramodi - Government of India to celebrate every year the birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as 'Parakram Diwas'.”

However, the Mamata Banerjee government has their own celebrations planned, with the CM holding a rally in Kolkata, reported The Hindu. Banerjee had also written to the Centre earlier this month, asking for 23 January to be declared a national holiday, and to declassify all files related to the freedom movement leader.

(With inputs from PTI, The Hindu and ANI.)

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