While there was an all-round feeling that the decision by Bengal chief minister to declassify all 64 files that are lying with her government will put pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to put the files with the centre in the public domain, BJP Bengal leaders described her announcement as a gimmick designed to divert attention from the sad state of affairs in the state.
On Friday the chief minister suddenly announced that her government has started digitising the files that will be made available to the public from September 18 at the office of the deputy commissioner, north, Kolkata Police.
A few Trinamool Congress leaders described the move as a masterstroke that will give a boost to her popularity at a time when opposition parties are hitting the streets keeping the 2016 Assembly polls in mind.
After the announcement, some members of the Bose family and sundry activists were planning to put pressure on the centre to do its part.
Significantly, Narendra Modi met Bose family members four times in the past few years -- and thrice as the prime minister -- indicating he was not merely paying lip service to the demand of declassification.
The Bose family members and other activists recently even held a dharna at Jantar Mantar and met with BJP national president Amit Shah over the issue.
“Now the centre has to declassify the files. There are a large number of files, and important ones, with the central government. The state has decided to put up 64 files in the public domain. The centre should follow suit. We will try our best to see that it is ensured,” said Chandra Bose, family member of Netaji.
Campaigners have claimed nearly 130 secret files on Netaji are in possession of the central government. “It was the prime minister who professed support for the cause of Netaji files declassification. When we met him in Delhi he even said that the nation had a right to know,” added Bose.
Netaji family members met with the PM a number of times in Germany, Delhi and even at Raj Bhawan Kolkata with their demand of complete declassification.
“This is great news for us. We are now waiting to see the files. We believe the files will reveal how family members of Netaji were snooped upon. But the files with the centre are more important and now we will exert pressure on the central government,” said Sayak Sen, activist with ‘Open Platform for Netaji’.
“We have been demanding the declassification of the files for a long time. I don’t know why suddenly the chief minister made such a decision, but it is welcome. However, she should also demand that centre should declassify files which are with them and which are more important,” said Mohammed Salim, CPIM politburo member and Lok Sabha MP.
"Mamata Banerjee's decision is correct. I fully endorse it. The centre should follow and reveal the contents of the files in its possession. I have always maintained that any classified file more than 50 years old should be declassified. It's a question of freedom of information and a sign of a mature archive policy," noted historian Sugato Bose told HT from MIT. Bose, who is a grand nephew of Netaji and a Trinamool Lok Sabha MP, used to teach history at Harvard University.
Forwad Bloc leaders, too, welcomed the initiated. Hafiz Alam Sairani, FB leader said, “It is a good move and people should know.”
BJP, however, dubbed the move as politically motivated and designed to divert attention from the sorry state of affairs in Bengal. “All her promises of development in Bengal have turned hollow.
Now the chief minister has nothing to woo the people with. Therefore, she is trying all these gimmicks,” said Rahul Sinha, state BJP president.
Former Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya, too, played down the move saying, “Let her declassify the files. Nothing important will come out of it I believe.”