Modi’s Claim of ‘Satyagraha for Bangladesh’ Triggers War of Words Back Home

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Netizens take swipe at Modi on claim he agitated for Bangladesh’s liberation and was held.

‘The claim that ANYONE did satyagraha for the freedom of Bangladesh and were arrested is too ridiculous to require refutation,’ says historian Srinath Raghavan

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim in Dhaka that he was part of a Satyagraha for liberation of Bangladesh has sparked a controversy back home. Opposition leaders on Friday questioned his claim while his Bharatiya Janata Party went in defensive mode.

Congratulating Bangladesh for its 50th year of Independence, Modi said one of the first protests of his political career was for the freedom of the neighbouring country. “The freedom struggle of Bangladesh was a significant moment in my journey too… My colleagues and I had done a satyagraha in India… I was in my early twenties. I even had the opportunity to go to jail during this satyagraha for Bangladesh’s struggle for freedom,” he said.

He made the statement while attending the Golden Jubilee celebration of the country’s independence along with President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Dhaka’s National Parade Ground.

Following Modi’s statement scores of people took to social media to express incredulity at Modi’s claims. It also led to a hashtag #LieLikeModi trending on Twitter.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh questioned his Satyagraha claim after historian Srinath Raghavan said on Twitter, “The claim that ANYONE did satyagraha for the freedom of Bangladesh and were arrested is too ridiculous to require refutation.”

BJP IT Cell chief Amit Malviya, however, refuted the Congress and a section of historians questioning the Satyagraha and said on Twitter, “Was Prime Minister Modi part of satyagrah organised by Jana Sangha for recognition of Bangladesh?

“Yes, he was. A citation awarded by Bangladesh to Vajpayee ji speaks of the rally. PM Modi, in a book authored in 1978, also wrote about going to Tihar during Bangladesh satyagrah!”

The citation, which Malviya shared on Twitter, is titled, “Bangladesh Liberation War Honour for Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”

Former IFS officer KC Singh reacted in a tweet, “Arrested where/when/why? His exact age also iffy. Wouldn’t record exist in some police file of an arrest? Pakistan general election that started the crisis was in Dec 1970. Crackdown began in 1971. Refugees flooded into India. War was short & won. So what was PM’s angst?”

Gaurav Pandhi, Congress party’s national coordinator, digital communications and social media said in a tweet, “Modi says he fought for independence of Bangladesh and was even sent to jail. But wasn’t India fighting a war with Pakistan to liberate Bangladesh? So where did he go to jail? Was he in Pakistan?”

Some other tweets having the users’ reactions:

Earlier, the prime minister held talks with Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen in Dhaka. Modi also met with several community leaders, including representatives of minorities in Bangladesh, ‘mukhti joddha’ or freedom fighters, friends of India and youth icons, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

Two distinguished artists from West Bengal were invited by Dhaka to perform for the celebration of 50th year of the independence of Bangladesh.

Marking the 50-year-old diplomatic ties with India, the Bangladesh government invited New Delhi to take part in the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of its independence.

Bangladesh is also celebrating the birth centenary of Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

With inputs from agencies

 

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