In Bengal, BJP Needs to Appropriate the Legacy of Several Heroes

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By using Jai Hind over Bharat Mata ki Jai and Jai Shri Ram, Mamata hit several birds with one stone. Jai Hind was the slogan adopted by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army in 1941. This slogan was actually recommended by Major Zainul Abideen Hasan of INA

Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India

IN Gujarat, from where the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi comes, for the Bharatiya Janata Party there was only one leader whose legacy was to be appropriated, that was the first deputy prime minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. But in West Bengal the list is longer and may grow further till the Assembly election in the summer.

On the 124th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on January 23 Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended two functions organised by the Ministry of Culture in Kolkata. He reached from Sibsagar in Assam, the poll-bound state which he visited for the first time after the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act movement launched by the All Assam Students Union in December 2019. Several people died in that protest and the Centre had to cancel a summit level meeting between Modi and the then Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe, in Guwahati in mid-December 2019. On that occasion Japan was to invest Rs. 13,000 crore for the development of North-East.

The AASU once again protested against the CAA on the eve of PM’s visit. Incidentally, Union Home Minister Amit Shah also landed in North-East on Saturday on a two-day visit to Meghalaya and Assam. He will be visiting Bengal once again on January 30-31.

The hectic activities by BJP’s top brass in these two states is understandable as the party had to do a lot of tight rope walking before the election over the issue of Citizenship Amendment Act. However, it is the appropriation of the heroes of Bengal which is somewhat surprising as be it Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekanand or Netaji — or any other Bengal hero–their philosophy and approach were totally opposed to the BJP.

Yet Amit Shah made it a point to visit Shantiniketan and just after that Modi addressed through video-conferencing the centenary celebration of Vishwa Bharati on December 23 last. Similarly, Swami Vivekanand’s birthday was celebrated in a big way on January 12 by the party workers in the state. Some more functions glorifying the great personalities of the Renaissance of Bengal may follow soon.

However, the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee pulled a faster one to teach the saffron party the true legacy of Netaji. In the morning she led a big seven kilometres long rally from Shyam Bazar in north Kolkata to Red Road in the central part of the metropolis.

Then in the evening at the main function organised in Victoria Memorial by Union Ministry of Culture she strongly objected to the crowd raising the slogan, Jai Shri Ram, Bharat Mata ki Jai, and Modi, Modi.

When her turn came to speak, she briefly said that though she is thankful to the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Culture for organising such a function in Kolkata to commemorate the birth anniversary of Netaji it does not behove the people to insult and humiliate anyone after inviting him or her to the function. She said that she would not speak on the occasion and suddenly ended this brief message with the slogan Jai Hind, Jai Bangla.

By using Jai Hind over Bharat Mata ki Jai and Jai Shri Ram, Mamata hit several birds with one stone. Jai Hind was the slogan adopted by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army in 1941. This slogan was actually recommended by Major Zainul Abideen Hasan of INA. He was an engineering student in Germany but gave up his studies to become a secretary and interpreter of Netaji.

Mamata thus in a way sent a strong message as to who is more closer to Netaji. She did not stop there, but also raised the slogan of Jai Bangla keeping in mind the election in the state. But Modi was quick to respond and immediately swung into the damage limitation exercise. Unlike in the past he started his speech with Jai Hind, Jai Hind, Jai Hind.

Mamata has repeatedly been harping that the BJP people have nothing to do with the legacies of the great personalities of Bengal and they only come to the state for the sake of politics. She also hinted at this in her own programme, that is during the march, early in the day.

While the Union government had announced that January 23 would be observed as Parakram Diwas, Mamata in her march said that the day should be celebrated as Desh Nayak Diwas. She said that Desh Nayak was the title bestowed on Netaji by Rabindranath Tagore. She didn’t stop there and went on to add that she does not understand the word ‘Parakram’. Thus, in a way she made it amply clear as to how alien is the language the BJP people are using in Bengal.

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