Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India was following the footsteps of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who had dreamt of a strong and powerful country. Addressing a crowd at an event marking Bose’s 125th birth anniversary at Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial, PM Modi said, “Netaji had dreamt of a strong India… from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to the Line of Control (LOC), we are following his footsteps.”
In his first visit to West Bengal in the run-up to the Assembly elections, PM Modi also said Netaji had once asked people not to lose hope of a “free India”, and similarly, no one could stop India from being Atmanirbhar.
“I wonder how Netaji would have felt had he seen the new India that is taking shape today. How would Netaji have felt seeing India manufacturing its own Covid-19 vaccines? He would have been immensely proud to see India helping other countries fight the pandemic,” PM Modi said.
He announced that Netaji’s birth anniversary (January 23) would henceforth be celebrated as ‘Parakram Divas’, and that the freedom fighter’s life, work and decisions were an inspiration for all. “130 crore Indians are indebted and will remain so to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose,” the Prime Minister said.
Minutes before PM Modi’s speech, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was also present at the event, refused to speak after a section of the crowd chanted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ slogans. “There should be some dignity at a government programme. I am grateful to the Prime Minister and Ministry of Culture for inviting me. But one should not insult someone after inviting that person. In protest, I am not saying anything,” Banerjee said.
Ahead of the PM’s visit to Kolkata, Banerjee took a dig at BJP saying her party does not celebrate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birthday only in the years when elections are scheduled, adding that the saffron party never celebrated Netaji’s birth anniversary before. She also alleged the Centre did not consult her government before declaring Netaji’s birthday as ‘Parakram Diwas’.
PM Modi had landed at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport around 3 pm Saturday, from where he took a helicopter to the city. His chopper landed at the RCTC Ground where he was received by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and state minister Firhad Hakim. He paid tribute to Bose at Netaji Bhavan, and also attended an international seminar on Bose at the National Library, where he interacted with delegates and artists.
Addressing a public event at historic Jerenga Pothar (field) in Assam’s Sivasagar district earlier in the day, PM Modi attacked the previous governments in the state for depriving its lakhs of poor indigenous people of their land rights. At the event, the Prime Minister ceremonially distributed over 1 lakh land pattas (land allotment certificates) to families from indigenous communities across the state.
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