Political leaders vie for Subhas Chandra Bose’s legacy
Leaders cutting across party lines commemorated freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose’s 123rd birth anniversary on Thursday amid a tussle to appropriate his legacy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying tributes, and posted on Twitter: “India will always remain grateful to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose for his bravery and indelible contribution to resisting colonialism. He stood up for the progress and well-being of his fellow Indians.”
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who unveiled a statue of Bose at the Raj Bhavan in Chennai, said several stalwarts of the country’s independence movement such as Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Netaji Subash Chandra Bose had been neglected.
The Congress too took to social media. “Respects on the birth anniversary of the great freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose #Netaji_Subhashchandra_Bose,” former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said in a Facebook post in Hindi.
Mass prayers and processions were organised in West Bengal and its capital Kolkata. The All India Forward Bloc (AIFB), which was founded by Bose, also known as Netaji, in 1939 after he quit the Congress, took out processions across the state.
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said Bose fought for a secular and united India, and opposed the “divisive politics” of the Hindu Mahasabha.
“I remember that on May 12, 1940 Netaji had given a speech at Jhargram in Bengal, and opposed divisive politics of an organisation called ‘Hindu Mahasabha’…He had clearly said that this divisive politics is just for the sake of creating a vote bank. He had condemned it,” Banerjee said.
The Hindu Mahasabha, or the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, was founded by VD Savarkar in 1915 after the formation of the All India Muslim League in 1906 and the then British India government’s creation of separate Muslim electorate in 1909. Before founding the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s ideological predecessor, Bharatiya Jana Sangh, SP Mookerjee was a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha.
West Bengal Congress president Somen Mitra too used the occasion to lash out at the Centre. “The BJP government at the Centre is unable to understand the principles and ideology of Netaji. So it should stop pretending about respecting Netaji and his struggle,” Mitra said.
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said the Congress should stop lecturing. “We all know the kind of treatment that Netaji was meted out by Congress leaders before Independence and the systemic method that was undertaken to wipe out his name from the history of India,” Sinha said.
In the evening, the home ministry announced that the Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre in Uttarakhand and former IPS officer KM Singh have been selected for the Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar for their commendable work in disaster management.
“The award is given in order to recognise the excellent work done by individuals and institutions in the country in the field of disaster management,” according to a home ministry statement.
Bose went missing in 1945 and some of his family members had rejected the report of his death in a plane crash in Taihoku airport in Taiwan on August 18 that year.