Photo via ANI
Photo via ANI

Ahead of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's 125th birth anniversary celebrations, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that the Howrah-Kalka Mail has been renamed as 'Netaji Express'.

The decision comes ahead of Netaji's birthday on January 23, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit West Bengal.

Goyal tweeted: "Netaji's 'prakram' (valour) put India on the express route of freedom and development. I am thrilled to celebrate his birth anniversary with the introduction of 'Netaji Express'."

The order to rename the train was issued on January 19, when the central government had also decided to celebrate Netaji's birth anniversary on January 23 as 'Parakram Diwas' every year.

The Kalka mail, started way back during the 19th century, is actually one of the earliest commercial passenger trains that have been running in India. Legend has it that Netaji had taken this train from Gomoh in Bihar following his escape from house arrest in Calcutta in 1941.

Meanwhile, it is a well-known fact at this point that the Bengal electocracy is plagued by a contention between the BJP and the TMC to appropriate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose for their respective political ambitions.

With assembly elections due in the state and the BJP trying to make inroads into the hearts of the people, the saffron camp has marked January 23 for the official celebration of 'Parakram Diwas'.

Meanwhile, ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee, who had since long been demanding that the date be declared 'Desh Prem Diwas' -- a national holiday -- isn't too happy with the decision. Nor is the All India Forward Bloc, a party formed by Netaji himself.

Debabrata Biswas, the general secretary of the All India Forward Bloc, said on Tuesday, "We, the secular and Left Front parties, have been demanding for the last 25 years, both inside and outside the Parliament, that the day be declared as Desh Prem Diwas. There is a philosophy behind calling it Desh Prem Diwas. Netaji had integrated several religions and people speaking different languages in our freedom struggle against the British rule.”

TMC MP Saugata Roy noted that the BJP's interest over Netaji at this time "appears to be a stunt, keeping in mind the upcoming assembly polls in the state, and not as a mark of respect to Netaji."

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