The statue of freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at the hill station of Dalhousie in Chamba district. (HT file photo)
The statue of freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at the hill station of Dalhousie in Chamba district. (HT file photo)

Political row in Himachal over demand to rename Dalhousie

Former CM Shanta Kumar and BJP MP Subramanian Swamy want tourist town named after Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, while local Congress MLA Asha Kumari has opposed the move
PUBLISHED ON JUN 09, 2021 04:55 PM IST

The demand to rename Dalhousie, a hill station in Himachal Pradesh, after freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has sparked off a political debate.

Rajya Sabha BJP member Subramanian Swamy has written to the state government, demanding Dalhousie be rechristened Subhas Nagar. Former chief minister Shanta Kumar said on Tuesday that he had written letters to governor Bandaru Dattatreya and chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, demanding the town be renamed after the freedom fighter.

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When contacted, Thakur was evasive and said, “There is no information on this matter so far.”

A Raj Bhavan official said that the governor had not received any letter on the renaming of the town from either Swamy or Shanta Kumar so far.

Local residents opposed to move: Cong MLA

Local Congress MLA Asha Kumari has opposed any such move and written to Thakur. “Residents of Dalhousie town are opposed to any such proposal that is why the previous (Congress) government turned down the proposal. Dalhousie is a famous hill station known nationally and internationally,” she said.

She requested the chief minister to respect the sentiments of the people. “There is no point changing names of places. Instead, the government should focus on development,” she said.

Local businessman Paramjeet Singh said, “Dalhousie is a town with its own old world charm. Why rename it?”

Monument sought for Tagore, Ajit Singh, too

But in his letter, Shanta Kumar said that his government had passed an ordinance in 1992 to rename the town after Netaji but later the Congress reversed the BJP’s decision. Besides Bose, Shanta Kumar demanded a monument to pay tribute to Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who had written parts of his famous composition, Gitanjali, at the hill station, and revolutionary leader Bhagat Singh’s uncle, Ajit Singh, who had spent time in Dalhousie during the freedom struggle.

It is said that Bose was won over by the beauty of Dalhousie and stayed at the hill station for several months in 1937. There are two places named after him in the town, Subhash Baoli and Subhash Chowk, which also has his statue.

Asha Kumari said, “We have high regard for Netaji in whose memory a chowk has already been built here.” The state government may hold a referendum in the town to gauge the sentiments of the locals on whether they are in support of renaming Dalhousie, she said.

The town, set up in 1850, was the summer retreat of Lord Dalhousie, the British governor general in India.

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