Having just three MPs, it is being treated as a special case

The All India Forward Bloc’s demand for a space to construct a party office in the National Capital is being considered by the government, but there is stoic silence on whether a memorial for its founder Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will be considered.

The Union Urban Development Ministry is “actively considering” the allotment of a plot of land for the party that has just three Members in Parliament.

In an indication of the government trying to make it up to the party, rules are being tweaked to accommodate the Forward Bloc’s demand for office space. “As per the rules, a party to have a space allotted for official use has to have at least 11 MPs. The eligibility criteria as per the 2006 policy cannot be altered, but this is being treated as a special case. The Ministry is drafting a note that will be presented to the Cabinet for its approval. The final decision rests with the Cabinet,” said a source.

In recent times the Forward Bloc has supported the UPA Government’s decision to nominate Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari for President and Vice-President’s position respectively. It has, however, criticised the move to bring in foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi brand retail.

The party is unhappy that despite its founder Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s contribution to India’s struggle for Independence and the long standing demand for a memorial in the Capital to familiarise the younger generations with his legacy and pay tributes to him, subsequent governments at the Centre have overlooked the request.

“Since 1985 the All India Forward Bloc has been demanding a piece of land in the National Capital for the construction of a foundation in the memory of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Over the years, the demand has been pursued with diligence, but so far it has been met with assurances and even in-principle agreements, but neither the Congress-led UPA nor the BJP-led NDA actually fulfilled the promise,” said party general secretary Debabrata Biswas.

Pointing out that the party has fulfilled every condition, including making the necessary payments required to be made, Mr. Biswas said: “There are so many buildings in the Capital that have memorials and foundations of the Nehru family, of Babu Jagjivan Ram and others, but nothing has been done for Netaji. Not even a piece of land has been allotted in his name.”

The Forward Bloc leader said after the party supported the UPA-I, he took up the issue of land allotment with the UPA leaders, but was not given any assurances. “When Ghulam Nabi Azad was the Urban Development Minister, there was some positive note mentioned in the file noting and we were asked to deposit some money as proof that we have the funds to build a foundation. When the BJP was in power, Ram Jethmalani had accepted in-principle, but nothing was done.”

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