West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata: India should have four capital cities in four corners of the country, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday (January 23), demanding, of course, that Kolkata should be one of them.

Her clamour to restore Kolkata's 'lost glory' as the country's capital has its roots back in the British era, which she cited to make her point.

"I believe that India must have four rotating capitals. The English ruled the entire country from Kolkata. Why should there be only one capital city in our country?" the West Bengal Chief Minister was quoted as saying by news agency ANI on this day.

For those wondering, Kolkata (then 'Calcutta') did serve as the capital of the English-held territories in India under the British Raj, but only till 1911, after which the capital was shifted to New Delhi due to the region's perceived geographical advantages and as well as strategic importance.

It's almost unimaginable that more than 73 years after independence, someone, much less the chief minister of a state, would reignite that demand once again. So what exactly is Mamata Banerjee playing at here?

Political commentators believe that the latest 'demand' is just another addition to a series of clamours that the West Bengal Chief Minister has been raising in opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government ahead of the polls.

Notably, Mamata made the statement while paying homage to 'Deshnayak' Subhas Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary, and she made sure to not miss any opportunity to slam the Modi government at the Centre.

This is especially so since at the time of writing this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also just arrived in Kolkata on Saturday afternoon to take part in the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Netaji.

Just before the Prime Minister's arrival, Mamata took to her rally at Shyambazar to lambaste the central government on a host of issues, besides highlighting how her government has given the due respect to Netaji.

She said that Netaji was a true leader and strongly believed in unity of all people, adding that a grand padayatra will be held on the day. This year's Republic Day parade in Kolkata will also be dedicated to Netaji.

"A siren will be sounded today at 12.15 pm. We urge everyone to blow shankh (conch shell) at home," Banerjee said, demanding that the Centre must also declare January 23 as a National Holiday.

Politically-aware citizens of Kolkata are looking at a high-voltage Saturday today, with both the BJP and the TMC waging war over appropriating Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to their respective political causes, and with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee both present in the same city to make their cases for the same.

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Free Press Journal