CM Mamata Banerjee pays tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in Darjeeling on Thursday. (Express Photo)
Invoking Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 173rd birth anniversary on Thursday, leaders of Trinamool Congress (TMC), Congress and Left Front said that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC) were against the principles and ideals of the freedom fighter.
Celebrating the freedom fighter’s birth anniversary in Darjeeling, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said through his struggle, Bose had sent the message of respecting all faith and the best tribute to him would be to fight for a united India.
She also demanded that the Centre should declare a national holiday to mark the occasion of Netaji’s birth anniversary.
Banerjee also slammed the Centre for “not being serious” about unravelling the mystery shrouding Bose’s disappearance.
Invoking Bose’s ideas and his criticism of the Hindu Mahasabha, she said, “Netaji fought for united India, but now efforts are on to oust those who follow secularism. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose while addressing a public meeting in Jhargram on 12 May, 1940, had criticised the Hindu Mahasabha. These thoughts are very much relevant today,” Banerjee said.
Also, Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), which is an ally of the BJP, has opposed CAA and NRC, saying that the law will adversely affect the Gorkhas. The GNLF has played a key role in establishing BJP’s presence in the hills, in what was previously an impregnable state for the saffron party.
In Kolkata, senior TMC MP and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim said if Netaji had been alive then there would not have been any Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the country. “There would have been no CAA (if Netaji was alive). Because Netaji had Dhillon (Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon) on one side and Shah Nawaz Khan on the other. Netaji means communal harmony,” said Hakim. Both Dhillion and Khan were officers of the Indian National Army.
On Thursday, the CPM observed Netaji’s birth anniversary as “Desh Prem Diwas”.
Members of CPM, Congress and 18 other Left parties took out rally from Subodh Mullick Square to Red Road.
Addressing a party workers’ programme in the city, CPM leader Mohammad Salim said, “Today Sangh Parivar is trying to define patriotism in a different way. The successors of Nathuram Godse are trying to teach patriotism to successors of Khudiram Bose... people who take lessons from Savarkar are being driven by the same ideology of comparing azadi slogans with anti-nationals sentiments.”
Congress president Somen Mitra said, “The BJP government at the Centre has failed to understand the principles and ideology of Netaji. So, it should stop pretending about respecting Netaji and his struggle. Only those who don’t understand Netaji talk about about NRC and CAA and create communal divide in the country. Netaji stood for secularism and all communities and religions came together in his Azad Hind Force.”
BJP state vice-president and Netaji’s grandnephew, Chandra Bose tweeted, “Paying my respects to a man on his 123rd birth anniversary who fought for #PurnaSwaraj& #Undivided India. Never compromised on his principles! A leader who stood apart from the rest - as he refused to use religious symbols for political purposes. Jai Hind!”
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha, however, said the Congress should stop lecturing on Netaji. “We all know the kind of treatment Netaji received at the hands of Congress leaders before Independence and the systemic method that was undertaken to wipe out his name from the history of India. It is the BJP government that has declassified the files relating to him after so many years,” Sinha said.