Kolkata: BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy’s suggestion to rename the iconic Victoria Memorial in Kolkata after Rani Lakshmi Bai (Queen of Jhansi) invited ire from political leaders in Bengal on Monday.
Swamy in his tweet wrote, “I welcome Namo’s (Narendra Modi) statement in Kolkata that History, as we know, should be reviewed. He should implement that statement by re-naming Victoria Memorial as Rani Jhansi Smarak Mahal. Queen Victoria took over India after the betrayal of Rani Jhansi in 1857 and looted India for 90 years”.
Swamy was referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on January 12, 2020 at Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata, when he announced that Kolkata port will be renamed after Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
"This port will now be known as Syama Prasad Mookerjee port," the Prime Minister said, adding, "it was unfortunate for the country that after Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Babasaheb Ambedkar resigned from the government, their suggestions were not implemented as they should have been. Today, I would like to announce that Kolkata Port Trust will be known as Syama Prasad Mukherjee port.”
Reacting to Swamy’s tweet, TMC leader Colonel Diptanshu Chaudhary (Retd), said, “It’s not the issue of the change of name of a particular place, it’s the question of our history in India. When the ethos and fabric of our society stood against all invasions, why is there an urge in changing of names after 73 years of independence?”
Calling the proposal an “attempt to obliterate India’s history” Chaudhary said it would create a wedge in the “multicultural society in the name of religion”.
“BJP has failed as a government and now they are back on their agenda of divisive politics with vehemence. The promised agenda of development and employment vanished in thin air. One of the essential features of fascism is that it creates the enemy from within. What the BJP is doing is that they are creating an enemy out of Muslims, Christians, Dalit and tribals and hurting the very fabric of the Constitution,” he said.
Veteran CPI (M) leader Amiya Patra termed Swami’s tweet as ‘political narrowness’. He said, “Forget about changing the name of Victoria Memorial, I strong opposed PM Modi’s decision to name Kolkata Port Trust as Syama Prasad Mukherjee port. He announced it from Belur Math on Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary. He could have announced Swami Vivekananda’s name. He could have also named it after freedom fighter Surya Sen as it was his death anniversary on January 12.”
Patra said changing names of iconic places “makes no sense” at a time when the country is going through economic crisis. “Modi is least bothered about India’s economy and unemployment. His government is busy focusing on changing names of Meerut to Nathuram Godse Nagar, Mughalsarai to Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction and Feroz Shah Kotla Ground to Arun Jaitely Stadium. This shows their political narrowness.”
Congress Rajya Sabha MP, Pradeep Bhattacharya, also condemned Swamy’s tweet, saying, “If they want to show respect to our freedom fighters, then they should seriously work on spreading their message to the society. I don’t think that only changing name will serve any purpose.”