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BJP’s Netaji chant to attract Bengal voters?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoisted the national flag at Red Fort to mark the 75th anniversary of the proclamation of Azad Hind Sarkar by freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Modi lauded the contribution of Netaji towards India’s freedom struggle. He hailed Bose’s spirit of nationalism. Modi attacked the Congress party for sidelining the contribution of leaders like Netaji, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and B R Ambedkar.

Veteran Congress leader Ratnakar Mahajan said, “Modi is fascinated with the idea of making any occasion into an event. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was an important leader of the Indian freedom struggle. The problem with RSS Parivar is that none of them contributed towards India’s freedom struggle nor they had been imprisoned for a day for the sake of independence.”

“Instead of listing his achievements, Modi always tries to compare his four years’ reign with the 60 years of Congress. Modi just wants to absorb the heritage of freedom struggle which was fought under the leadership of Congress,” he added.

The question which arises here is that why is PM Modi speaking highly about Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s contribution towards Indian freedom movement? Since Netaji is a popular leader in West Bengal, BJP is trying to gain a foothold in the state by using his name. The Modi government is also keen to oust the Trinamool Congress which is in power in the state. It had declassified several files pertaining to Netaji in January 2015.

BJP spokesperson Madhu Chavan said, “Honouring and praising a notable leader like Subhash Chandra Bose can never be a political strategy especially the BJP doesn’t believe in politicising by using the name of such freedom fighters as the electoral agenda.” When asked about the necessity for Modi to attack the Nehru-Gandhi family in his speech at Hind Azad Government’s anniversary, he refused to comment anything regarding the PM.

Both BJP and TMC have been at the loggerheads with each other over various issues in Bengal. BJP president Amit Shah has been holding rallies in the state. The party is aiming to win at least 22 seats out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal. Shah is personally planning to visit every district of the state prior to polls. BJP leadership has also decided to aggressively campaign for the passage of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 in Bengal.

Former judge of Bombay High Court Justice B.G Kolse-Patil  said, “It would have been acceptable if Modi had just praised the great leader Subhash Chandra Bose but the motive was to defame the Congress, Nehru-Gandhi family and also the independence movement which was not necessary at all. BJP has only one agenda left with them and that is to win the elections. Now the BJP is using Sardar Patel’s name but the truth is that earlier, he had warned about the party calling the Sangathan as a dangerous one.”

Even the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been trying to cash in on Netaji’s name to connect with voters. She stated that people have a right to know what happened to Netaji Subash Chandra Bose after the Taihoku air crash in 1945. Three years ago, her government had declassified the files related to Netaji. “On this day in 2015 our government declassified the #NetajiFiles. What happened to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose after the air crash at Taihoku? People deserve to know the truth,” she posted in a tweet. Netaji’s family has been demanding for the declassification of the secret files as they expect that it will help in answering questions related to his mysterious disappearance in 1945.

BJP spokesperson Shivray Kulkarni said, “Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was a great freedom fighter and his name is being honoured for years now, not just by one party but all the parties. It is unfortunate that in our country even praising the name of such eminent leaders are considered as the political strategy.”

When asked about Modi’s attack on Nehru-Gandhi family in his speech, he replied, “The clan is our opposition so why should we praise them? Today’s generation of Nehru-Gandhi family is taking advantage of the contribution of the party’s previous generation’s  towards freedom struggle. It was shameful that until now, Subhash Chandra Bose was not honoured considering his contribution towards our nation’s independence movement.”

Meanwhile, PM Modi announced that police personnel doing outstanding work will be honoured with the national award in the name of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. After hoisting the national flag, PM Modi also unveiled the plaque to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Azad Hind government. The plaque will be placed at barrack number three at Red Fort where members of the Azad Hind Fauj faced trial.


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