“Netaji had dreamt of a strong India, and today from LAC to LOC we are following his footsteps. Whenever our sovereignty was challenged, we have given a befitting reply,” he said at the event held at the Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata. The LoC divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan, while the LAC separates India and China.
He said Bose would have been very proud of how the country had faced the pandemic without fear, and had come up with its own vaccines. He also added that the country now was militarily strong with Rafale and Tejas jets, and this would have pleased Bose as he too was striving to make India stronger than his adversaries.
He said Netaji Bose had once asked people not to lose hope of free India. “Only he could do what he did, to inspire hundreds of people across communities to come fight for the country. Every Indian is indebted to the sacrifices he made,” he said. The PM also said Bose was inspired by the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, and believed in the power of every individual. “When the world was discussing basic rights of women, Netaji formed the Rani Jhansi regiment and connected them to the freedom struggle. He trained them and instilled in them a passion for the country and fighting for it,” he added.
From naming the island of Andamans after Netaji Bose to beginning the commemoration of the formation of Indian National Army, the PM listed steps taken by his government to honour Bose. “We made the documents related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose public,” he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refused to speak at the same event after a section of the crowd chanted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and governor Jagdeep Dhankhar as she got up to speak.
“There should be some dignity at a government programme. I am grateful to the Prime Minister and Ministry of Culture for inviting me. But one should not insult someone after inviting . In protest, I am not saying anything,” the CM said.
She however accompanied the PM as he toured the exhibition, “Nirbheek Subhash” that has been put together by the Culture ministry.
Earlier in the morning, she led a padyatra in Kolkata with other prominent leaders of the TMC and criticvised the Centre for not declaring a national holiday for Bose. She demanded that parliament sessions be held in all four major cities of the country, and not be restricted to Delhi, and also asked for the planning commission to be revived. The TMC has asked for the government to bring out a book chronicling the history of Azad Hind Fauj (INA) compiled by the history division of the Ministry of Defence in 1951 but was never published.
Ahead of the Bengal polls, the Centre has announced that it will celebrate Netaji’s birth anniversary (January 23) every year as ‘Parakram Divas’. The TMC-led State government conducted its own events as part of “Desh nayak diwas” and blamed the Centre for running parallel programmes and not upholding the principles of collaboration espoused by Bose. Both the Centre and State have different committees of experts planning these events.
The centre’s event was a grand cultural affair with child artists performing the INA song ‘Kadam Kadam Bachaye Ja’, and performances from artists Usha Uthup, Assamese singer Papon and Bengali composers Soumendra and Soumyajit.