Late freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
Late freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
Photo by ANI

Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had been demanding since long from the Centre to celebrate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birthday, January 23, as 'Desh Prem Diwas' and declare it as a national holiday; however, the central government has not yet obliged.

Now, 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 Tuesday for the official celebration of 'Parakram Diwas'.

But the political parties in West Bengal are not too happy with the announcement.

Debabrata Biswas, the general secretary of the All India Forward Bloc, a party formed by Netaji himself, said, "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.”

The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) isn’t too happy with the announcement of Parakram Diwas either.

TMC MP Saugata Roy said, “The announcement to observe it as a day of valour is not enough. January 23 should be announced as a national holiday. It is our longstanding demand. As he was a national leader and the head of the Azad Hind Fauj, these two aspects are not reflected through Parakram Diwas.”

He added the day should be observed as patriotism day.

"It appears to be a stunt, keeping in mind the upcoming assembly polls in the state, and not as a mark of respect to Netaji," he said.

Talking to the Free Press Journal, Netaji’s grandnephew and BJP leader Chandra Kumar Bose reacted to the central government's decision of celebrating Bose’s birthday as ‘Parakram Diwas’ and said, “The people of India for many years have been celebrating January as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’ or Patriots’ Day. Had it been declared Patriots’ Day, it would have been more topical. For some reason, it has not been done. Netaji’s valour and bravery can’t be compared to any other, so Prakram Diwas is also not wrong in that sense."

He added, "Netaji's ideals need to be propagated to all across India and today’s generation needs to be energised. His philosophy was sarv dharm samanway (religious equality) and with that ideal he had formed the Azad Hind Fauj amalgamating all religions. We need Netaji’s ideals to unite India once again. All the political parties will need to spread his message.”

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