Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Kolkata to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Subhas Chandra Bose, on Saturday said Netaji would have been immensely proud to see how India has become self-reliant and is helping other nations by exporting coronavirus vaccines.
Addressing a gathering at Kolkata's Victoria Memorial, Modi said, "No one can stop India from being 'atmanirbhar' (self-reliant). Netaji would have been proud to see how India is helping other nations by providing them vaccines."
Modi said from now on the birth anniversary of Bose, popularly known as Netaji, would be celebrated as 'Parakram Divas' every year.
"Every year we will celebrate Netaji's birth anniversary as 'Parakram Diwas'. Netaji is an inspiration for India's courage," he said.
Highlighting the contributions made by the Indian freedom fighter for the country, Modi said, "Netaji gave a new direction to idea of free India. I bow down to the land that made Netaji. Netaji inspires everyone in the country. It is our duty to keep remembering his sacrifice and contribution to India."
Meanwhile, Modi also made a veiled attack on China and Pakistan by saying, "From LAC to LOC, the world is witnessing the powerful avatar of India that was once envisioned by Netaji. India today is giving a befitting reply wherever attempts are made to challenge its sovereignty."
"Netaji reached Andaman and unfurled the Tricolour with his own soldiers. The declaration which he had made was the first government of 'Akhand Bharat'. He was the first head of the Azad Hind government," news agency ANI quoted Modi as saying.
Modi also mentioned how Bose made efforts to empower women. "When the world was discussing basic rights of women, Netaji formed the Rani Jhansi regiment and connected them to the freedom struggle. He trained them and instilled in them a passion for the country and fighting for it," he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar were also present at the event. Banerjee, however, refused to speak as she felt "insulted" after a section of audience raised ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans at the event at Victoria Memorial Hall.
Ahead of the event at Victoria Memorial, Modi paid floral tributes at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's statue at the National Library in Kolkata. Modi went around seeing paintings by around 100 artists on a 40-metre long canvas on the sprawling lawns of Belvedere House at the National Library compound.
The prime minister also greeted participants in an international conference on "Revisiting the legacy of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose" at Belvedere House to mark his 125th birth anniversary.