Opposition, government slugfest over Bose legacy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi after inaugurating the Subhas Chandra Bose museum at the Red Fort in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated the Subhas Chandra Bose museum at Red Fort to mark the 122nd birth anniversary of  ‘Netaji’, the NDA government in a veiled attack on Congress wondered how independence struggle icons like Bose, Sardar Patel and Ambedkar were not given prominence earlier.
 
After inaugurating the museum, Modi discussed it with his colleagues in a meeting of the Union Cabinet. During the Cabinet briefing, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad highlighted the works done by Modi government to honour the legacy of Bose, Sardar Patel and Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.
 
“Modi government installed the tallest statue of Patel, constructed Ambedkar Centre and now inaugurated a museum after Bose. Memorials have been built for three great leaders of the Indian freedom struggle. I fail to understand why it was not done so far. We also want the memoirs of all Prime Ministers should be there in Nehru Museum. Modi government is clear view everybody should be honoured and not only members from one family,” Prasad said.
 
Ever since coming to power in 2014, Modi government has been focusing big on freedom fighter icons other than those from Nehru Gandhi family and has flagged the criticism that they were “ignored”. Declassifying papers related to Netaji’s death was one the promises repeatedly made by the BJP. However, not much to put the Congress in dock came out from declassification of these papers.
 
The focus on Bose has got renewed in the last few months as BJP bets high on West Bengal, where Bose is the most revered Indian freedom movement icon.
 
The messaging was not lost on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee either, who reminded the BJP that Netaji had taken people from all communities and races together and attacked BJP leadership saying  “those who want to divide the country into pieces cannot be called national leaders.” It also attacked BJP for not declaring Netaji’s birth anniversary as a national holiday.
 
When the Prime Minister inaugurated the Bose museum in Delhi, members of Bose's family were also present. Modi thanked Bose’s family for presenting him a cap worn by Netaji.
  
 Netaji’s grand nephew Chandra Kumar Bose joined the BJP in 2016 two days after the government had declassified 100 files related to Bose.
 
Joining the party. Chandra Bose had then said that he was not the first person to join the BJP and recalled that even his father  Amiya Nath Bose was associated with the BJP in the eighties. Some other members from Bose’ family were also with Congress, Forward Bloc and Trinamool Congress.
 
Congress has been alleging that ever since the Modi government came to power, an effort is on rewrite history and BJP is trying to appropriate freedom fighters belonging to Congress party.
 
On Sunday the Prime Minister had taken a jibe at Congress, alleging that the contribution of great leaders like Patel, Ambedkar and Bose was deliberately forgotten to glorify one family, a remark which drew sharp criticism from the Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, who alleged that a  desperate BJP was trying to create"imagined rivalry" between Nehru and other leaders of freedom struggle.

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Opposition, government slugfest over Bose legacy

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