Political tug-of-war over Netaji in Bengal

As the country celebrates the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose a three-way political tug-of-war has started in West Bengal over Netaji.

As the country celebrates the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose a three-way political tug-of-war has started in West Bengal over Netaji.

The trigger to the debate seems to be BJP president Amit Shah’s recent allegation at a party rally in Malda district that the Congress has done everything in its power to ensure that people forget about Netaji.

He also pointed out that the BJP government at the Centre has renamed three islands of Andaman and Nicobar in homage to Netaji.

Shah’s remarks generated a chain of reactions among the major players in Bengal politics.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lashed out at the Centre for not declaring Netaji’s birthday, January 23, as a national holiday.

On Wednesday (January 23), she claimed that the Centre still does not consider Netaji as a national hero. 

Speaking to DH state BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu said that “ people will not fall for the chief minister’s baseless allegations. She was a Minister in the Congress-led UPA and she never protested when the Congress insulted Netaji.” 

Basu also said that the CPM has no “moral rights” to speak about Netaji as the party had earlier “repeatedly insulted” him.

However, senior CPM MLA and leader of the Left Legislative Party in the state Assembly Sujan Chakraborty accused both the BJP and the TMC of using Netaji for electoral benefits.

“The BJP and the TMC wakes up to Netaji’s contribution to the freedom struggle only when election is round the corner. That is what the BJP is doing now,” Chakraborty said. 

As for the TMC, he said that “the party which has the culture of putting a small photo of Netaji below a giant cut out of the chief minister should  think twice before lecturing others.”

Admitting that the Left once criticised Netaji, he said that it promptly corrected its assessment of Bose. 

Earlier BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha hit back stating that the TMC government can’t do anything with regard to declaring Netaji’s birthday as a national holiday and its solely in the hands of the Centre.

Political rivalry again became prominent as all the Opposition parties including the CPM and the BJP distanced themselves from the state government’s program to celebrate Netaji’s birthday.

The irked TMC leadership lashed out at CPM. Senior TMC leader and Panhayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee accused the CPM of indulging in politics over Netaji. 

“CPI(M) had earlier resorted to adverse criticism of Netaji and now they are seeking to gain political mileage through him,” Mukherjee said.

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Political tug-of-war over Netaji in Bengal

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