The 124th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on January 23 witnessed hectic activities in Kolkata with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending two functions organised by Ministry of Culture. The main celebration was organised in Victoria Memorial, where chief minister Mamata Banerjee registered a strong protest apparently over the raising of political slogans such as Jai Shri Ram, Bharat Mata ki Jai and Modi, Modi.
Earlier in the day chief minister Mamata Banerjee led a huge march of about seven kilometres long between Shyam Bazar and Red Road. The march started and concluded from near the Netaji statues.
Though the PM’s function was essentially not political in nature the message was loud and clear. He wants to spend more and more time in West Bengal ahead of the assembly election in may next.
While in her own programme Mamata said that Modi was reminded of Netaji just ahead of the assembly election. But at the Victoria Memorial function she angrily said that it is a government programme and not of any political party; thus, the dignity of the occasion should be maintained. She said that she was grateful to the PM and the cultural ministry to organise such a function in Kolkata to mark the birthday of Netaji but nobody should be humiliated after being invited. with this protest she ended her brief speech. At the end she said Jai Hind, Jai Bangla.
Modi responded by starting his speech with Jai Hind, Jai Hind, Jai Hind.
It needs to be mentioned that the slogan Jai Hind was adopted by Netaji’s Indian National Army in 1941. Thus, Mamata’s rebuke compelled PM to start his speech with Jai Hind.
Earlier in the day Modi landed from Sibsagar in poll-bound Assam, where too he recalled
the contributions of Netaji. This was the PM’s first visit to Assam after the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019. The legislation was followed by widespread protest leading to the death of several people.
All Assam Students’ Union once again protested against the CAA on the eve of PM’s visit.
Meanwhile, Union home minister Amit Shah too reached Shillong and then flew to Guwahati. He would be visiting Kokrajhar on Sunday.