Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 23
Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary celebrations in Kolkata on Saturday turned out to be a contest between PM Narendra Modi and CM Mamata Banerjee to appropriate the icon in a bid to impress voters ahead of the Assembly elections.
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Addressing a gathering at Victoria Memorial, Modi claimed that various steps initiated by him were in conformity with Netaji’s ideals. He claimed India’s feat of developing Covid vaccines and supplying these to friendly countries would have made Netaji proud. The 40-minute address sounded quite like an election speech. The PM also appealed to the crowd to come forward to build “Sonar Bangla”.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that Netaji’s birthday would be celebrated as “Deshnayak Divas” in West Bengal when the Centre had already announced it as “Parakram Divas.”
Taking part in a procession later, she proposed four different capitals for India with Parliament sessions in each of these capitals by rotation. Mamata sprung a surprise turning up at the Victoria Memorial event, Modi’s last stop in the city. As she rose to speak, she was jeered at by a section of the crowd that raised “Jai Shri Ram” slogan. Annoyed, she refused to deliver her speech, observing that the organisers (Union Ministry of Culture) should not have invited her to a “political meeting”.