Kolkata, Aug.15 (ANI): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday broke with tradition in place since 1948, by shifting the venue of the Independence Day celebrations from the government headquarters at the Writers' Building to Red Road in the heart of the city.
The flag hoisting ceremony at Writers' is attended by top bureaucrats and their staff.
The shifting of the venue to Red Road (near Eden Gardens, Victoria Memorial), where the Republic Day celebrations take place, allowed people to line the road and watch the parade - like they do on January 26.
For the first time in 64 years, Kolkata witnessed a full-fledged Independence Day pageant, with a police parade and tableaux, instead of the simple flag-hoisting ceremony in front of Writers Buildings before a restricted set of invitees. City and state police, members of civil society, social organisations and school children, participated in the march past.
"Earlier, people's participation was almost nil during Independence Day celebrations. Now people will be able to take part as on Republic Day," according to Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee.
"The previous government failed to give due honour to Independence Day celebrations, but we want a change from this year," Mukherjee added.
Banerjee's attempt to make Independence Day celebrations completely accessible to the public comes as she's being attacked for her alleged intolerance of criticism.
A farmer was arrested after he questioned her about her policies at a rally last week. Two days ago, the state's Human Rights Commission offered a grave assessment of the arrest of a professor in April for his online post of a cartoon featuring the chief minister.
The commission said that "If this goes on, we will be heading towards a totalitarian regime."
In the West Bengal Assembly on Tuesday, Banerjee said, "If unknowingly something goes wrong - and that can happen to anyone - I will apologise to the people. Who can claim to be right always? I am only human." (ANI)