PM, Shah hail Tagore and Netaji’s legacies
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah on Friday focused on West Bengal’s rich heritage and its “lost glory” in back-to-back addresses in the poll-bound state, in an effort to counter chief minister Mamata Banerjee branding the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership as “outsiders” in the state.
Modi, while virtually addressing the convocation ceremony of Visva Bharati, the state’s only central university of which the Prime Minister is the chancellor, said its founder Rabindranath Tagore’s vision on education has contributed to the Centre’s new education policy.
The Prime Minister spoke about Maratha warrior king Shivaji, whose birth anniversary was celebrated during the day, and recited in Bengali a few lines from Tagore’s poem Shivaji Utsav on the icon. “These lines draw inspiration from Shivaji and talk of fighting for one India. We must live the message Tagore sent. You are not part of a university but part of a living heritage. Tagore could have named this institution a global university but he chose to call it Visva Bharati. He wanted the students to see the world as Indians and uphold the nation’s heritage. This is what the nation expects of you,” said Modi.
“Tagore wanted the education system to be free. Today, the nation’s new education policy gives you the freedom to choose your subjects, show your skills and develop entrepreneurship. It also focuses on gender equality in education… This will lead to an aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India),” Modi said.
Union minister Shah, who was in Bengal on a two-day tour, attended a cultural event at Kolkata’s National Library as part of a programme on freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, and paid tributes to Bengal’s martyrs.
“Subhas Chandra Bose is remembered by millions despite the efforts made to make people forget him. The Centre has formed a committee to pay homage to him on his 125th birth anniversary not only in India but abroad as well. He topped the Indian civil service, something today’s youths aspire for, but quit the job to serve India... We may not die for the nation like the freedom fighters, but we can live for it,” Shah said.
Trinamool Congress’s Lok Sabha MP Saugata Roy alleged that Modi and Shah both fall short of the secular idealism that Tagore and Bose stood for. “They build the Ram temple and differentiate between high-caste and low-caste Hindus. They are mentally and ideologically unfit to talk about such icons,” Roy said.
Countering Shah and Modi, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujan Chakraborty said: “Do Modi and Shah live the spirit of universal brotherhood that Tagore and Bose uphold? The BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh represent an entirely different ideology. Tagore believed in freedom of thought and speech while Bose believed in a classless society.”
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