Fight for legacy: Declare Netaji, Vivekananda's birthdays as national holidays, Mamata writes to Modi
Three days ahead of the 121st birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has demanded that the Narendra Modi-led central government should declare his birthday as a national holiday.
"Swami Vivekananda and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose are national and international icons. I have written a letter to the PM urging the GoI to declare both their birthdays (Jan 12 and Jan 23) national holidays," Banerjee tweeted on Saturday.
Banerjee's letter comes on the heels of the Bose family members in Kolkata raising a similar demand that the Union government should officially declare January 23 as "Desh Prem Divas" or Patriot's Day.
"It is time that the government acknowledges the gravity of our demand, not just to honour Netaji, but also the brave soldiers of the Azad Hind fauz who actually gave us our freedom," Netaji's grand nephew Chandra Kumar Bose said.
Even on the issue of declassification of files pertaining to Bose, a long standing demand of his family, Chief Minister Banerjee had pre-empted the Centre by releasing 64 secret files that the state home department had in its possession in September 2015. Later, the central government followed suit by releasing hundred classified Netaji files on 23 January, 2016.
While the BJP and the Sangh Parivar has been using Swami Vivekananda has a saffron mascot, Mamata Banerjee has often quoted the Bengal icon in recent times to hit out at the saffron brigade. The two parties have been engaged in a bitter tussle to appropriate the legacy of these two icons.
While Bengal Police denied permission to BJP's "Pratirodh Avijan" bike rally across the state to mark Swami Vivekananda's birth anniversary this month, it fielded a battery of ministers who lined up at Vivekananda's ancestral residence in north Kolkata to pay homage on January 12.
"We don't need to learn about the legacy of Vivekananda from them. Let them learn the culture of Bengal first. This is the land of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami ji's guru who spoke of universal acceptance of all religions," said Bengal Minister Sadhan Pande.