The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, unveiled a portrait of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on January 23 as a tribute to the freedom fighter on his 125th birth anniversary.
The government announced January 23rd as “Parakram Divas” or Netaji Jayanti.
“The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, unveiled a portrait of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at Rashtrapati Bhavan today (January 23, 2021). The unveiling was to mark the beginning of year-long celebrations to commemorate the 125th Birth Anniversary Year of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose,” read the statement by Rashtrapati Bhavan.
What the center did not see forthcoming was the allegations and controversy over Netaji’s portrait. Peddled by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, India Today anchor Rajdeep Sardesai, and well-known journalists like Barkha Dutt, the Twitterati stormed the platform with tweets claiming the portrait to be “fake”.
Netaji Or An Actor Who Played Him?
The series of errors started off when the above-mentioned personas announced on Twitter that the portrait unveiled by the President is that of the Bengali actor who portrayed Netaji in a biopic.
The actor, Prasenjit Chatterjee played the role of the freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in a 2019 film titled “Gumnaami” directed by Srijit Mukherji.
The officials at Rashtrapati Bhavan dismissed the allegations soon after. A senior official who wished to stay anonymous told IANS “We do not comment on tweets. The painting was made in Rashtrapati Bhavan and you think that it is a painting of an actor. What kind of question is it? Something is being run on Twitter, but it may be politically motivated. What can we say on it?”
Mahua Moitra had tweeted “After donating Rs 5 lakh to the Ram temple the President honours Netaji by unveiling a portrait of Prasenjit, the actor who played him in biopic.” “God Save India (because this government certainly can’t),” she continued.
Barkha Dutt tweeted “shocked to hear that the President unveiled the portrait of actor Prasenjit Chatterjee, who played #Netaji instead of the real deal..” which reinforced the confusion further.
Rajdeep Jumps The Gun, Again
Rajdeep Sardesai, the renowned anchor of India Today, has been in the news for the past few days now. And yet again he hopped on the train and tweeted, this time claiming that this portrait was a fake.
“So it turns out that this is a portrait of Prasenjit Chatterjee who acted as Netaji in a movie! Surely @rashtrapatibhvn could have found a nice original Netaji portrait to put up!” read his tweet.
The anchor was taken off-air not so long ago by India Today due to the propagation of ‘false news’ regarding the farmer’s protest without any proof.
The Centre also gave a statement in response to the allegations on Monday. The government clarified that the portrait is, indeed, of the freedom fighter and not the actor.
The portrait was based on an original photo of Netaji.
Chandra Kumar Bose, a relative of Netaji clarified the confusion with his tweet “This is the original photograph of #NetajiSubhasChandraBose, based on which renowned artist Shri #PareshMaity has drawn the portrait which was unveiled at Rashtrapati Bhavan on 23 Jan 2021, by Hon’ble President of India-Shri Ram Nath Kovind ji. @rashtrapatibhvn @narendramodi”.
The actor, Prosenjit himself refuted the claim and said “Would like to congratulate Paresh Maity for the wonderful piece of art in remembrance of our National hero Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. As an Actor, I’m elated that people thought, that the painting resembles my character in Gumnami,dir. by @srijitspeaketh and prosthetics by Somnath” in his tweet.
The director of “Gumnaami” commended the work of Somnath Kundu who was responsible for prosthetics in the biopic based on Netaji. “The following is the picture on the basis of which the painting at Rashtrapati Bhawan was painted by Paresh Maity. For any similarity of Prosenjit’s look to this photo, the credit goes to Somnath Kundu. #Gumnaami @prosenjitbumba,” read his tweet.
Thereafter, Rajdeep Sardesai, Mahua Moitra, Burkha Dutt all deleted their initial tweets that claimed the portrait to be fake.
The Centre Rebuked
The greatest rebuke came from the President’s press secretary, Ajay Kumar Singh, who wrote a letter addressing Aroon Purie, the founder and editor-in-chief at India Today.
In the letter, written on behalf of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Ajay Kumar expressed the disappointment over the “shameful controversy in which a section of journalists, including some from India Today group, dragged the Rashtrapati Bhavan for motives that are not clear”.
Ajay Kumar said that it was ‘regrettable that a senior journalist of India Today did not bother to check the facts before making a serious claim like this’, thus pointing towards Rajdeep.
The letter also noted that “these journalists merely deleted their tweets, or made a clarification without owning up to their blunder, much less apologising for it.”
According to the letter, this blunder caused huge distress at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and as a result, Rashtrapati Bhavan is “forced to review their engagements with India Today group.”
Image Credits: Google Images
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