Amid a tussle over Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s legacy between the West Bengal government and Centre, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will share the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Victoria Memorial Hall on Saturday to celebrate the freedom fighter's 125th birth anniversary.
At the event, Modi is set to inaugurate a year-long celebration centred around Bose’s legacy in Kolkata. According to his schedule, the PM will interact with artists and delegates at the National Library at 3.30 pm and an hour later he will attend the mega event titled the ‘Parakram Diwas Programme’.
The event is taking place amid a political standoff between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC), ahead of the assembly elections this year.
While the Centre wanted to celebrate Bose’s birth anniversary on January 23 as ‘Parakram Diwas’, TMC insisted that the day should be celebrated as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’.
The Left and Congress leaders have also been invited to attend the programme. There are speculations that PM Modi may announce changing the name of the iconic Victoria Memorial to Netaji Subhas Chandra Memorial.
The event will also see cultural performances, including those by famous singer Usha Uthup and Assamese singer Papon.
When asked about the possibility of Victoria Hall's name change, Netaji's grandnephew was not too please. "We don’t support any attempt which changes our history. The iconic Victoria Memorial Hall is part of the British history and we cannot suddenly erase 200 years of British rule from our history,” he said.
“If we actually want to honour Netaji then I think there should be inclusion of his ideas and vision in text books. The youth should embrace the inclusiveness of Netaji’s and I think that would be a perfect way to honour him on his 125th birth anniversary,” he added.
Earlier today, Mamata Banerjee stole the show with multiple events organised by the state government on the occasion.
She also led a ‘pada yatra’ (rally) from Shyambazar in North Kolkata, where the statue of Netaji stands on Red Road.
"Netaji had the foresight to conceptualise a Planning Commission and the Indian National Army before Independence. BJP claims that they idolise Netaji but at the same time they scrap the Planning Commission. I understand Netaji's ‘desh prem’ but I don't understand the word ‘parakram’. Why have we declared today ‘Deshnayak Diwas’? Because Rabindra Nath Tagore gave him the title and also Netaji gave Tagore’s song recognition as our national anthem," she added.