Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday, 23 January, shared the stage on the occasion of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary, amid chants of ‘Jai Shree Ram’ that led to Banerjee refusing to address the event.
PM Modi first visited Netaji Bhawan, after Banerjee paid a surprise visit to the freedom fighter’s home on Saturday morning, ahead of her mega rally in the city. The Prime Minister was greeted by ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chants outside Bose’s house.
He then visited Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, where Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar were also present.
Addressing the event, PM Modi said that Netaji's birth anniversary will now be celebrated every year as 'Parakram Divas'.
PM Modi further said that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose used to count poverty, illiteracy and disease among the biggest problems in the country and believed that these problems can be solved if society comes together against them.
“Netaji's life, work and decisions are an inspiration for all of us. Nothing was impossible for a person with such steely resolve,” he said.
“From LAC to LOC, the world is witnessing the powerful avatar of India that was once envisioned by Netaji. India today is giving a befitting reply wherever attempts are made to challenge its sovereignty,” PM Modi said.
PM Modi also announced that the train plying from Howrah, known as Howrah-Kalka Mail, will be renamed as Netaji Express.
TMC vs BJP on Netaji’s Legacy
The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are engaged in a tussle over the celebrations marking Netaji’s birth anniversary.
Before the event, PM Modi visited the National Library of Kolkata, where a conference on “Revisiting the legacy of Netaji Subhas in the 21st century” and an artists’ camp were organised.
Banerjee, meanwhile, led a march from Shyam Bazaar to Red Road in the city and paid a surprise visit to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's ancestral residence at Elgin Road, where she criticised the Centre's decision to announce 23 January as ‘Parakram Diwas’.
“I don’t understand the meaning of ‘Parakram Diwas’. We celebrate the day as ‘Desh Nayak Diwas’,” Banerjee said.
Earlier in the day, PM Modi had tweeted, “I bow before India's great son Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose - a great freedom fighter and true son of Mother India, on his birth anniversary. A grateful nation will always remember his sacrifice and dedication for the independence of the country. #ParakramDivas.”