Lajpat Rai, Maharana Pratap among 6 icons to be feted this year
Even as the Congress has cried foul over NDA attempts to “appropriate” Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Madan Mohan Malaviya, the Modi government has a fresh list of icons lined up for grand commemorations in the coming year.india Updated: May 20, 2015 00:16 IST
Even as the Congress has cried foul over NDA attempts to “appropriate” Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Madan Mohan Malaviya, the Modi government has a fresh list of icons lined up for grand commemorations in the coming year.
The coming months will see the legacies of nationalist leader Lala Lajpat Rai, medieval Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap, freedom fighter Rani Gaidinliu from the Northeast, 1857 icon Tantya Tope, medieval Bhakti saint from Bengal Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and writer Bhisham Sahni being celebrated by the government.
The high-level National Implementation Committee on Commemorations decided this in New Delhi on Monday. This comes months after a decision to celebrate the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi alone.
While committee head, home minister Rajnath Singh, called for national and global celebration of these icons, finance minister Arun Jaitley urged the construction of memorials at their birthplace.
Lajpat Rai’s choice is a logical extension to that of Malaviya, who was awarded Bharat Ratna on December 25. Lajpat Rai was a the president of both the Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha, in different years. Lajpat Rai had also formed the Independent Congress Party with Malayiva in 1926 to take on Motilal Nehru’s Swaraj Party, accusing the latter of ignoring ‘Hindu interests’.
Rana Pratap is seen as iconic by Hindutva proponents – apart from Shivaji and Guru Gobind Singh – for taking on Mughal might. Rani Gaidinliu, the freedom fighter from Manipur, is believed to have opposed Christian missionaries. Her choice is also a reaching out to the north-east in particular and tribals in general.
Tantya Tope is yet again a nationalist icon of the 1857 revolt. Significantly, it was Hindutva icon Savarkar who had first used the term First War of Independence for this revolt, which was earlier seen as a sepoy mutiny.
The choice of Chaitanya is again a combination of celebrating a religious icon and a reaching out to Bengal, where the BJP has had little presence.
Bhisham Sahni — whose writings were reminiscent of Partition horrors was —however seen as a critic of communalism.