Political row over Centre’s decision to celebrate Netaji’s birth anniversary as Parakram Diwas

Trinamool Congress and the All India Forward Bloc demand that the day be observed as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’.

The decision by the Union Ministry of Culture to celebrate January 23, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, as ‘Parakram Diwas’ has sparked a political row in West Bengal, with the Trinamool Congress and the All India Forward Bloc demanding that the day be observed as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’ instead.

The Ministry of Culture on Tuesday issued a notification stating that in “order to honour and remember Netaji’s indomitable spirit and selfless service to the nation, Government of India has decided to celebrate his birthday on the 23 rd day of January every year as Parakram Diwas”.

Senior Trinamool leader Saugata Roy said the announcement to observe the day as ‘Parakram Diwas’ (day of valour) was not enough. It should be celebrated as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’ (patriotism day), he said.

“January 23 should be announced as a national holiday. It is our long-standing demand. As he was a national leader and head of the Azad Hind Fauj, these two aspects are not reflected through ‘Parakram Diwas’.”

“It appears to be a stunt keeping in mind the upcoming Assembly poll in the State, and not as a mark of respect to Netaji,” he said.

Trinamool Rajya Sabha member Derek O’ Brien said: “West Bengal government observes Subhas Utsav every year on 23rd January in honour of the great son of the soil. The State-level celebrations have been held at Darjeeling since 2014. Mamata Banerjee has been demanding that 23rd January be declared a national holiday in honour of Netaji.”

All India Forward Bloc State secretary Naren Chatterjee said the party has been demanding for years that Netaji’s Birth anniversary be declared as ‘Desh Prem Diwas’.

“The BJP leadership still does not realize the contribution of Netaji. That is why they cannot understand the difference between Parakram Diwas and Desh Prem Diwas,” he said. The AIFB was founded by Netaji.

The family members of Netaji also put their weight behind ‘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 govt announced it as Desh Prem Diwas. But we’re happy about the announcement,” Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose said.

Another grandnephew and Harvard historian Sugata Bose said one should not forget the ideals of Netaji. He believed in unity and equality, and both Hindus and Muslims were part of the Azad Hind Army.

Meanwhile, hectic preparations are on for the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji in Kolkata, both by the State government and the Centre.

The State government is scheduled to hold a massive procession in Kolkata. The Union Ministry of Culture is also making preparations for a grand event at Victoria Memorial Hall. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to take part in the celebrations.

(With PTI inputs)

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