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'We Don't Celebrate Netaji's Birthday Only in Election Years': Mamata's Quip Kicks off Grand Procession

File photo of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.

File photo of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.

Before the commencement of the procession from Syambazar area in the northern part of the city, Mamata Banerjee blew a conch shell and a siren was sounded at 12.15 pm, the time when Bose was born on this day in 1897.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday kicked off a grand procession here to pay tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary. Before the commencement of the procession from Syambazar area in the northern part of the city, Banerjee blew a conch shell and a siren was sounded at 12.15 pm, the time when Bose was born on this day in 1897.

"We do not celebrate Netaji's birthday only in the years when elections are scheduled. We are celebrating his 125th birth anniversary in a grand fashion. Rabindranath Tagore described Netaji as Deshnayak. That is why we have decided to celebrate this day as Deshnayak Diwas," she said. "Netaji was one of the greatest freedom fighters of the country. He was a great philosopher," she said.

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Banerjee also urged the Centre to declare Netaji's birthday as a national holiday. The 7-km procession will culminate at the Netaji's statue on Red Road where Banerjee will be addressing the gathering.

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Hundreds of people, several senior leaders of Trinamool Congress and MLAs joined the procession to pay their tribute to the freedom fighter. Chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and other bureaucrats of the state government are also present in the rally.

Banerjee also criticised the Centre for abolishing the Planning Commission, which, according to her, was conceptualised by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

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She also demanded that Netaji's birthday on January 23 be declared a national holiday. "Why the national Planning Commission, which was conceptualised by Netaji in independent India, was dissolved? Why the demand for a holiday on Netaji's birthday by our government not yet met?" Banerjee said in her brief speech.

The Narendra Modi government disbanded the Planning Commission in 2014 and had formed the Niti Aayog.

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