The Centre on Tuesday said that the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on January 23 will be observed as ‘Parakram Diwas” (Day of Valour) to honour his “indomitable spirit and selfless service to the nation”. The decision evoked sharp reactions from the Trinamool Congress and Forward Bloc, which accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of using Netaji for its politics ahead of the Assembly elections in West Bengal.
“The Government of India has decided to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary year of Netaji beginning from January 2021 in a befitting manner at the national and international level. In order to honour and remember Netaji’s indomitable spirit and selfless service to the nation, the Government of India has decided to celebrate his birth anniversary every year as ‘Parakram Diwas’ to inspire the people of this country, especially the youth, to act with fortitude in the face of adversity as Netaji did, and to infuse in them a spirit of patriotic fervour,” the Centre said.
Union minister Prahlad Singh Patel said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the first ‘Parakram Diwas’ programme in Kolkata on January 23 and inaugurate an exhibition on the grounds of National Library to mark Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary . The PM will also felicitate prominent members of the Indian National Army formed by Netaji and their family members in Kolkata on Saturday.
Another programme will be held in Haripura village in Gujarat’s Surat district where Bose was elected president of the Indian National Congress in 1938.
Accusing the Centre of using Netaji as a poll prop ahead of the elections in the state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “We were the first to announce that we will celebrate the day as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’. What the Centre has announced is their discretion, but we are not happy. I think that the Central government should declare January 23 a national holiday. They (BJP) only remember Bengal just before the elections. They can’t even pronounce Bengal properly… The Centre had said that it would declassify all the files related to Netaji, but they have not.” The Trinamool Congress chief is scheduled to hold a rally in Netaji’s memory on January 23.
Before the Centre’s announcement, Banerjee said that the day will be celebrated as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’ in the state.
“Today is the 80th anniversary of Netaji’s ‘Great Escape’ from his Elgin Road residence to Europe. He overcame several hardships to lay the groundwork for his war against the British. His resilience is an inspiration for all. Jai Hind!” she tweeted.
Trinamool MP Saugata Roy said the Centre’s announcement to observe Netaji’s birth anniversary as ‘Parakram Diwas’ was not enough. “January 23 should be announced as a national holiday. It is our long-standing demand. As he was a national leader and head of Azad Hind Fauj, these two aspects are not reflected through ‘Parakram Diwas’. We had also demanded observance of the day as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’ (Patriotism Day). It appears to be a stunt keeping in mind the upcoming Assembly polls in the state, and not as a mark of respect to Netaji,” he said.
The Forward Bloc, which was founded by Netaji in 1939, also demanded that the day be observed as Desh Prem Diwas. “Instead of ‘Parakram Diwas’, the day should be celebrated as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’. The demand to observe January 23 as ‘Patriotism Day’ was made by the Left Front when it was in power,” said Forward Bloc state secretary Naren Chatterjee.
Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose welcomed the decision but at the same time said it would have been appropriate had January 23 been declared ‘Desh Prem Diwas’.
“Netaji was India’s liberator. We welcome the announcement but people have been celebrating January 23 as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’. It would have been more appropriate, had the government announced it as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’. But we are happy about the announcement,” Chandra Kumar Bose said, adding, “We can celebrate the day as Parakram Diwas or Desh Prem Diwas but the main thing is to follow Netaji as idol of our politics. That should be the main promise of all the political parties in our country on the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji.”
Meanwhile, the Centre has constituted an 85-member high-level committee helmed by the PM to plan year-round programmes to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji.