Political spats cloud Netaji birthday celebrations in Bengal (Roundup)

January 24th, 2012 - 12:18 am ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Jan 23 (IANS) West Bengal Monday paid glowing tributes to legendary freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 115th birth anniversary, but the occasion was marred by political spats and one-upmanship.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who participated in a series of functions to celebrate the occasion, described the mystery about Netaji’s death as a national shame.

“It a shame for me, and for all that we still do not know anything about Netaji’s death. It is a shame and pain that we will continue to bear until we discover the facts,” Banerjee said at the Netaji Bhavan here.

She also said a leader like him who still continues to inspire generations cannot die.

Speaking at the same programme, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh called Netaji a “planner, scientist and environmentalist” whose thoughts were far ahead of his time and still relevant.

Refering to Netaji’s association with astrophysicist Meghnad Saha and engineer and statesman M. Vishveswariya, he said their coming together not only contributed towards the creation of the Damodar Valley Corporation but also the need for and use of developing scientific temper.

But the day saw the government and the opposition engage in bitter political wranglings.

In an apparent dig at the communists, who earlier had criticised her for celebrating Bose’ birth anniversary Saturday at the secretariat, Banerjee said: “We do not need a particular day to celebrate and honour a person like him. Leaders like him must be honoured and felicitated every day, every minute.”

Banerjee raised her tempo against the state’s communist opposition at another programme in the evening as she attacked them for having once questioned Netaji’s nationalism.

“They (the Communists) had called him the dog and tout of (Japanese Prime Minister during World War II) Hideki Tojo, and now they are felicitating him. They have no moral right to do so. Nobody will now accept their felicitation,” said the chief minister.

Countering her allegation, Leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said: “We had never questioned Netaji’s nationalism. We had made some assessment during the Second World War. Our stand has changed since them”.

Ironically, Banerjee had, in the morning allowed the Left Front (LF) leaders to garland Bose’s statue first in a state government programme, averting a brewing political confrontation.

The LF had Saturday vowed to disregard a government fiat regarding the time allotted to it for garlanding the revolutionary’s statue.

Forward Bloc leader Ashok Ghosh was the first to pay floral respect followed by LF chairman Biman Bose and other Left leaders. Banerjee was the last in line.

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