As the country is all set to celebrate the 126th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, politics over the issue is heating up in West Bengal where the great Indian freedom fighter has his roots. The ruling Trinamool Congress and the principal opposition BJP have their own political cards to play in the matter.
The Trinamool Congress-led state government has recently announced the decision to set up a ‘Jai Hind Vahini’ on the lines of the National Cadet Corps (NCC).
This announcement has led to a political slugfest in the state where the opposition parties have denounced it as a blatant attempt to politicize the Netaji issue. This is especially so in the backdrop of the recent development in which the office of the additional director general, West Bengal & Sikkim Directorate, NCC, had pointed out how the careers of over one lakh NCC cadets have been affected because of the non-payment of its share of expenditure by the state government.
According to CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty, the Trinamool Congress reportedly has a branch organization whose name is also Jai Hind Vahini.
“So, is this yet another attempt to politicize the school education sphere through this move under the garb of paying homage to Netaji? What is the justification of this move, when the NCC is there?” he questioned.
Somewhat on the same lines, the BJP’s state spokesman Samik Bhattacharya too has criticised the move.
He said: “The entire school education system in West Bengal is going through a deep crisis because of the massive teachers’ recruitment irregularity scam. In such a situation this move on Jai Hind Vahini is nothing but a joke in the name of Netaji. First the state government should try to revive the education system by cleaning it up.”
Trinamool Congress senior legislator Tapas Roy rubbished the opposition criticism by describing it as an unnecessary attempt to politicize each and every issue.
Roy said: “No one is saying that the Jai Hind Vahini will be set up, sacrificing the existing NCC scheme. This is just to pay homage to Netaji on the occasion of his birth anniversary. The opposition in reality does not have any respect for the great souls of the nation and hence they unnecessarily politicize the entire issue.”
Meanwhile, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s scheduled programme to pay homage to Netaji in front of Shahid Minar in Kolkata on January 23 has stirred a controversy in West Bengal.
Although the RSS cannot be strictly defined as a political force, major political parties in West Bengal and even some analysts feel that the saffron camp will surely try to gain political mileage by this move of Bhagwat before the West Bengal panchayat polls in 2023 and more importantly the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
According to Trinamool Congress’s state vice-president Jai Prakash Majumdar, it is intriguing why the RSS chief for the first time chose to pay tribute to Netaji and more specially why he chose Kolkata as the venue.
“It is clear that the move is to give BJP some oxygen in the state before the panchayat polls. The RSS has never shown any respect for Netaji before. Even Netaji refused to meet Vinayak Damodar Savarkar,” Majumdar said.
The CPI(M)’s central committee member Robin Deb feels that the RSS and the Trinamool Congress have always operated on a mutual admiration basis, where Mamata Banerjee describes RSS as the true warriors against the communists and the latter equate her with Goddess Durga.
“This same tradition of mutual admiration is continuing where Netaji’s birth anniversary celebration has just become a medium,” Deb added.
Historian AK Das too cannot recollect the RSS celebrating the birth anniversary of Netaji so elaborately and that too in West Bengal with the Sangh chief himself being present.
“At least history does not speak of any connection or synergy of thoughts between Netaji and RSS. But that cannot stop anyone from paying homage to this great freedom fighter. But considering the timing with two major elections coming up, the coinciding of the event with any political motive cannot be totally ruled out,” Das said.
Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose, who is himself a face of the BJP in West Bengal, said that this hypocrisy over the great Indian freedom fighter should come to an end now. “Either one should oppose Netaji or accept and practice his ideology of secularism and inclusivity true to its spirit,” he said.